As part of a larger pledge by Saudi Arabia to help Palestine, the Kingdom on Sunday donated $27 million to UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, to support its operations in the Palestinian territories.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarin said during the ceremony held at the Saudi Embassy in Amman that the Saudi generous contribution is a sign of its renewed commitment to the work of UNRWA in line with the Kingdom’s longstanding generosity towards Palestine refugees and in solidarity with them.
As Lazzarin explained, this donation will enable the agency to reach the most vulnerable Palestine refugees in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria and to continue its education and health programs.
As one of the largest donors to UNRWA, Saudi Arabia has contributed nearly 1 billion US$ to the agency only in the past decade with the latest donation following the 2019 pledge of $US50 million the Kingdom made.
According to Nayef bin Bandar Al-Sudairi, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Jordan, the total Saudi support to Palestine since 1999 has amounted to more than $5.2 billion.
This includes the support the Kingdom gives to the Palestinian Authority’s budget and direct support to infrastructure, health, education, food and agriculture security, water and environmental reform, among other issues.
Established by the UNGA in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million registered Palestine refugees, UNRWA’s mission is to help Palestine refugees achieve their full human development potential pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.
Its services encompass health care, education, social services, relief, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Being funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, UNRWA’s financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs resulting in the UNRWA program budget to operate with a large shortfall in supporting the delivery of core essential services.
The situation is worsened by the increased demand for services UNRWA is confronted which results from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability, and their deepening poverty.