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UNRWA Conference 2021: Germany again pledges substantial funds for Palestine refugees

UNRWA provides medical care for children, © UNRWA Photo by Hussein Neirab

16.11.2021 - Article

Since 1949 UNRWA has ensured the survival and dignity of millions of Palestine refugees. One of the aims of today’s conference is to reform the organisation to make it fit for the future. Germany is UNRWA’s second largest supporter.

What is UNRWA?

UNRWA – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – was established in 1949 with the mandate to protect and care for hundreds of thousands of people who had lost their homes after the 1948 Arab‑Israeli War. The organisation has been helping Palestine refugees ever since: children can attend school, the hungry receive food, the sick receive medical care. UNRWA thus also makes an important contribution to regional stability.

UNRWA’s work hampered by recurrent financial crises

Even though it is doing such important work, UNRWA often lacks the necessary support,

UNRWA provides Palestinian refugees with humanitarian aid
UNRWA provides Palestinian refugees with humanitarian aid© UNRWA

both political and financial. In 2018, under the previous administration, the United States stopped its payments to UNRWA. The huge support provided by the EU and Germany since then, as well as the contributions from the Arab Gulf states in 2018, allowed UNRWA’s indispensable work to continue.

Reform process at UNRWA: Germany will continue its support for the organisation

Today’s conference aims to set the course for UNRWA’s work in the years ahead. This will require further reform, progress on the digital transformation, and stable donor contributions. So the conference is an important step towards modernising the organisation.

State Secretary Berger today announced new pledges for the current year amounting to €72 million, including €15 million for a project to relieve the programme budget. In the coming years, the German Government will continue to support UNRWA with a contribution of at least €74 million, a sum which could be increased substantially depending on the situation on the ground. Germany has contributed approx. €125 million to UNRWA so far in 2021, making it the second largest donor after the United States, which resumed its payments to UNRWA in April this year.

German financial support for UNRWA comes from Federal Foreign Office funds for humanitarian measures, particularly for food aid and COVID-19-related measures, and from Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development funds for infrastructure measures, employment promotion and support for the education and healthcare sectors.

Further support measures

In addition to UNRWA, Germany supports other partner organisations in order to cover the enormous humanitarian need in the region. For example, Germany provides support to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Country-based Pooled Funds for humanitarian efforts administered by OCHA so that the necessary aid can be distributed rapidly and efficiently. The German Government also works with the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the World Food Programme (WFP) and NGOs to provide people with humanitarian aid.

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