At the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Germany once again reaffirmed its support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). UNRWA is an indispensable mainstay of stability in the region. While travelling to the UN General Assembly in New York, Foreign Minister Maas announced that Germany intends to maintain its support for the valuable and important work of the organisation. In 2018, Germany will therefore increase its financial contribution to UNRWA to approximately 100 million euros. Other donors, such as the European Union, Kuwait and Norway, have also announced substantial increases in their contributions.
Currently, in accordance with its mandate, UNRWA provides aid and relief to some 5.4 million people in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In Gaza alone, more than one million people depend on UNRWA food aid, and a total of approximately 500,000 children are enrolled in the organisation’s educational institutions.
Dramatic financial crisis
UNRWA is currently experiencing a dramatic financial crisis. More than 90 percent of the Agency’s work is financed by voluntary pledges by donors. Time and again, a lack of pledges, or pledges which are not carried through, lead to severe shortfalls. When funding runs out, UNRWA is barely able to perform its important tasks. The negative impact is then immediately felt by the people to whom it provides support. Schools need to remain closed, and health facilities must reduce their services .
Germany is one of UNRWA’s long standing and largest donors and underpins its financial commitment with political support. In 2018 alone, Germany has so far made available 81 million euros. With Germany’s latest commitment, this amount is increasing again, to approx. 100 million euros.
Also within the EU, the Federal Government is working to ensure that the organisation benefits from reform and long term funding. At the same time, as a member of the UNRWA Advisory Commission, Germany encourages other donors to stabilise and increase their financial commitment, so as to provide a firm and sustainable foundation for UNRWA’s work.