NEW YORK, 27 September 2018 – The European Union (EU) Thursday night proposed an additional €40 for Palestinian refugees during the UNRWA ministerial meeting on the margins of the UN General Assembly in New York.
The European Commission announced additional support to UNRWA to allow the agency to provide access to education for 500,000 Palestine refugee children, primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients and assistance to over 250,000 vulnerable Palestine refugees.
High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini said during the meeting: “Today we reaffirm the EU‘s political and financial support to UNRWA. With today‘s announcement the overall contribution of the EU and Member States has reached over €1 billion for the past three years. Thanks to these funds, every day 500,000 children go to school, millions of patients receive healthcare and thousands of people have access to jobs.”
“Supporting the agency means supporting peace and security in the Middle East. And this is in our strategic interest. UNRWA is essential for the very perspective of a two-state solution,” she added.
She called on “all those who have cut funding would need to rethink their decision”, referring to the US administration’s decision of January 2018 to cut off all funding to the UNRWA, which provides services to over five million Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories (the West Bank and Gaza) as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, who attended the meeting, stated: “Keeping schools open for Palestine refugees is a key priority for all of us. With this additional funding we reaffirm the European Union‘s clear and firm commitment to UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This is an exceptional response to an exceptional crisis.”
“It now matters to plan for 2019 and beyond. UNRWA needs now to focus on core services to the most vulnerable and to urgently align its activities to available funding. We stand ready to help UNRWA and to work with host governments to manage the process,” he added.
“Our additional humanitarian assistance will help UNRWA respond to health needs which have increased significantly over the past six months in Gaza. This will strengthen the healthcare system and help UNRWA-run primary healthcare centres in Gaza meet increased demands,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid & Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides.
“We remain committed to assisting the most vulnerable people in Gaza and to strengthening the resilience of the most affected communities,” he added.