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Norway to disburse NOK 125 million to UNRWA

‘The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East plays a key role in safeguarding the basic needs of Palestinian refugees, and has shown itself to be highly adaptable during the pandemic. Despite the closure of schools, UNRWA has managed to keep education programmes going for 526 000 schoolchildren,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.

UNRWA assists approximately 5.7 million Palestinian refugees on the West Bank, in Gaza, and in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. In addition to its regular activities, the organisation has played a key role in addressing new needs that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.

Norway is now disbursing the whole of its core contribution, NOK 125 million, for 2021. The payment of the full contribution early in the year will give UNRWA greater flexibility and facilitate planning of operations.

‘In addition to providing essential support to individuals and families, UNRWA also promotes stability in an unpredictable region. Norway considers it important to help strengthen UNRWA’s role, and we will therefore disburse the full core contribution now, as we have done in previous years,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

UNRWA was given its mandate by the UN General Assembly in 1949. Core focus areas include health services, schooling and protection, and over half a million Palestinian school children receive education through UNRWA-operated schools. UNRWA’s financial situation has become more difficult in recent years and it is severely underfunded. The organisation has requested that donor countries contribute a total of NOK 1.5 billion for 2021.

‘The pandemic has exacerbated the situation for Palestinian refugees. Norway urges both existing and new donors, including the Gulf states, to maintain a high level of support for UNRWA,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.

As in previous years, Norway will consider contributing to UNRWA’s emergency appeals in 2021 in addition to its core contribution. In 2020, Norway provided NOK 100 million in support to UNRWA for humanitarian efforts, along with an extra allocation of NOK 10 million to help combat the impacts of the pandemic.