GENEVA, Wednesday, January 19, 2022 (WAFA) - The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has announced it is seeking from the international community $1.6 billion in 2022.
The funding, according to a UNRWA press release, will fulfill the mandate of the United Nations General Assembly to provide millions of Palestine refugees vital, lifesaving services and programs, including education, health, and food assistance. The request includes additional emergency funding for UNRWA to address the humanitarian needs arising from crises in Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) Syria, and Lebanon.
“The international community recognizes the lifesaving role of UNRWA and its indispensable contribution to stability in the Middle East. It also recognizes how cost-efficient and agile UNRWA is. In 2022, that recognition must be supported by the adequate level of funding to meet this critical moment for Palestine refugees,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. “Chronic Agency budget shortfalls threaten the livelihoods and well-being of the Palestine refugees that UNRWA serves and pose a serious threat to the Agency’s ability to maintain services.”
The 2022 budget proposal comes as UNRWA confronts a chronic funding shortfall that undermines its effort to provide humanitarian and human development support to some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, whose needs keep increasing.
Moreover, COVID-19 continues to pose serious health risks and exacerbate economic hardships across the region, with now an estimated 2.3 million Palestine refugees living in poverty. UNRWA is their only remaining lifeline. Distress and despair have become the norm among Palestinian refugees, where many in Gaza, Syria and Lebanon report their readiness to use any means to try to migrate outside of the region.
The long experience of UNRWA operating amidst crisis zones has given it a reputation as a pioneer in refugee service delivery - arguably the most efficient and cost-effective UN humanitarian agency.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the Agency has, for example, expanded and improved e-health access and telemedicine, delivering health services to a total of 1.7 million refugees in 2021.
UNRWA is committed to investing in comprehensive programmatic reform and modernization to meet refugee needs in an even more cost-effective and efficient manner. A fully-funded 2022 budget will assist the Agency in its efforts to break the cycle of despair among Palestine refugees through microfinance loans worth $31.2 million; vital structural improvements to refugee camps to create safer and healthier living environments; and cash and food assistance to the millions of refugees impacted by the ongoing humanitarian crises in the region.
“The amount that UNRWA is requesting for 2022 will directly contribute to the wellbeing of Palestine refugees, to efforts to combat and contain COVID-19 and to regional stability. UNRWA therefore should be every donor’s agency of choice, as it contributes to human development, provides humanitarian assistance and helps stabilize a region that is rife with crises The international community must give UNRWA sufficient and predictable funding so we may continue to provide Palestine refugees with a sense of security and normality they deserve,” concluded Lazzarini.