The European Union has agreed to pay a further contribution worth €45 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton and Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Štefan Füle signed on Thursday in Brussels a Joint Declaration on EU support to UN efforts in the period 2011-2013 with UNRWA Commissioner General Filippo Grandi. They also signed two Contribution Agreements for a total of €45 million.
"UNRWA is a key partner organization for the European Union in the Middle East. The principal objective of the EU's support to Palestine refugees is to ensure that their essential humanitarian and development needs are met until there is a just, fair and agreed solution to the refugee question. In the meantime it is essential that UNRWA is able to maintain the level of the basic services it provides," Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
"The EU understands the major problems UNRWA is facing in obtaining the funds necessary to provide the most basic vital services to the Palestinian refugee population. In recognition of the excellent work carried out by UNRWA we have made a significant effort to increase our contribution to their core budget this year," said Commissioner Füle.
Filippo Grandi expressed gratitude to the EU for its renewed multi-year commitment to Palestine refugees and UNRWA, and for its contribution this year which is particularly important at a time of significant changes in the region.
The EU's indicative contribution to UNRWA's General Fund in 2011-2013 would be around €80 million a year, subject to budgetary allocations.
The first of the two Contribution Agreements signed today, for €40 million, represents a further contribution to UNRWA's General Fund on top of a Contribution Agreement for the same amount signed earlier this year. The second, for an amount of €5 million, is specifically dedicated to Food Security and is designed to enable the organization to provide nutrition for the poorest and most vulnerable refugees.
The EU and its Member States are the biggest donors to UNRWA. Together with humanitarian aid and support from the Instrument for Stability, the EU contribution for 2011 now stands at €125 million.
by RTT Staff Writer