The European Union Representative, Ralph Tarraf, and Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Pierre Krahenbuhl, signed, on Wednesday, at UNRWA headquarters in East Jerusalem the EU-UNRWA contribution agreement in support of the Agency’s 2019 Program Budget, according to an UNRWA press release.
Under this agreement, the EU provides a vital contribution of 82 million Euros in support of the human development work of UNRWA for this year. In light of the Agency’s ongoing financial challenges, the EU has agreed to provide the totality of its funding immediately upon the signature of the agreement, said the press release.
The statement said that the new contribution will help preserve access to education for 532,000 children, provide primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 acutely vulnerable Palestine refugees, as well as a multitude of other services, at a time of extreme instability across the Middle East region.
For over four decades, the EU has established itself as a key strategic partner for the Agency, supporting UNRWA in its efforts to help Palestine refugees achieve their full potential in human development despite their difficult circumstances. In 2018, as the Agency faced its most significant financial shortfall since its inception, the EU emerged as the Agency’s largest donor. Building on decades of commitment and partnership, the EU has maintained its generous level of support to assist Palestine refugees.
Krahenbuhl said, “We greatly value the outstanding commitment shown by the European Union to preserving the dignity and addressing the needs of Palestine refugees. The generosity and consistency of the EU’s cooperation deserves the highest recognition. It allowed UNRWA to open its schools on time for the 2018-2019 scholastic year and was a major factor in last year’s successful campaign to overcome our existential funding crisis. We are proud of this partnership and look forward to developing it further at this critical time.”
The EU Representative in Jerusalem, Ralph Tarraf, said, “On a daily basis, UNRWA provides Palestine refugees with essential services including education, health and relief assistance, while promoting socio-economic development and stability in the Middle East. The EU and its Member States are proud to support UNRWA’s work in providing these services to Palestine refugees, which should be seen as an inseparable part of the EU’s efforts to reach a negotiated two-state solution and a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Supporting UNRWA will remain one of the pillars of our Middle East peace policy.”
The EU’s commitment to Palestine refugees includes unprecedented support for the Agency’s education program through its Healthy Living, Healthy Spaces campaign. In 2018 alone, the EU rehabilitated some 65 UNRWA installations, including schools and health centers across the Middle East.