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UNRWA appeals for $1.2 billion to continue operations

UNRWA has said it aims to raise $1.2 billion this year to fund its operations for Palestinian refugee across the Middle East region.

Ahead of a pledging conference slated for next Tuesday at the UN headquarters, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl told journalists in New York the 1.2 billion dollars represent the same amount the agency was able to mobilize last year. “If every single donor were to preserve and maintain their level of contribution reached in 2018, we would be able to cover the financial needs of UNRWA.”

He affirmed that part of that appeal has already been fulfilled as UNRWA managed to cover the first five months of 2019 “in a fairly stable way,” thanks to the payments advanced by the donors and “their commitments and contributions.”

However, in June, UNRWA started entering deficit figures, he said, appealing to donors to help the agency bridge efforts during the summer in order to ensure its schools would be able to open on time in September.

Currently, UNRWA runs an education system of some 700 schools for about half a million Palestinian boys and girls. It also operates around 140 health centers for about 8.5 million patient visits a year.

Particularly, Krahenbuhl pointed out that as UNRWA provides food assistance to about one million people in the Gaza Strip, which account for half of the entire population, “any disruption in that pipeline” would be problematic for the stability of the region.

Established in 1949, UNRWA is mandated to provide assistance and protection for some 5.4 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Its services include education, health care, relief, social services, infrastructure, camp improvement, and microcredit.