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UNRWA - Photo:Photo: UNRWA
Photo: UNRWA

Norway to provide NOK 125 million to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

‘UNRWA plays a key role in meeting the basic needs of Palestine refugees and in safeguarding their rights. The work of the organisation is also helping to prevent further instability in the Middle East. That is why Norway is now disbursing NOK 125 million to UNRWA – the whole of its core contribution for 2020,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides assistance to over 5.5 million Palestine refugees on the West Bank, in Gaza, and in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Health services and education are among the organisation’s core focus areas, and over half a million Palestinian schoolchildren attend UNRWA-operated schools.

Foreign Minister Eriksen Søreide met Acting Commissioner-General of UNRWA Christian Saunders at refugee camp Amman New Camp in Jordan today. Some 2.2 million registered Palestine refugees live in Jordan. Most of them have Jordanian citizenship; only 10 % live in refugee camps.

‘Jordan has provided vital assistance to the Palestine refugees and is an important partner for UNRWA. Here in Amman New Camp, I have had good conversations with Palestine refugees who are benefiting from health services and schooling provided by UNRWA,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.  

Norway is a significant and reliable donor to UNRWA. As in previous years, Norway will also consider contributing to UNRWA’s emergency appeals in 2020. In 2019, Norway provided NOK 117 million to UNRWA’s emergency appeals, in addition to its core contribution of NOK 125 million. 

UNRWA was given its mandate by the UN General Assembly in 1949. Its mandate was renewed last autumn for a further three years. The resolution extending UNRWA’s mandate was supported by an overwhelming majority in the UN General Assembly. Since the US withdrew its support to UNRWA in 2018, the Gulf states and other donors have increased their contributions. Despite this, UNRWA’s financial situation remains difficult, and the organisation operates with ongoing budget shortfalls.   

‘The renewal of UNRWA’s mandate must be backed up by sufficient resources so that UNRWA can continue to provide basic services to refugees. We urge other donors too, not least the Gulf states, to maintain or increase their contributions and to disburse this funding early in the year,’ Ms Eriksen Søreide said.