‘The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is in a critical financial situation and is facing a severe funding gap. That is why we like last year are disbursing the whole of our core contribution of NOK 125 million to UNRWA at the beginning of the year,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide.
The way UNRWA is handling its critical financial situation, which is partly a consequence of the US cutting all its funding to the organisation last year, was one of the topics discussed today when Ms Eriksen Søreide met UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl at the Munich Security Conference. They also discussed the need for continued reforms.
‘It is crucial for stability in the region that UNRWA’s schools remain open and that the Palestine refugees have access to basic services. In 2018, UNRWA succeeded in mobilising increased contributions, in particular from the Gulf states. It is vital that these contributions are maintained in 2019, and that the donor countries provide support quickly,’ said Ms Eriksen Søreide.
Norway is a significant donor to UNRWA. In addition to its core contribution of NOK 125 million, Norway will also provide humanitarian funding. In 2018, Norway contributed NOK 294 million to UNRWA’s work.
UNRWA was given its mandate by the UN General Assembly in 1949. Among other things, the organisation provides health services and education to over 5 million Palestine refugees on the West Bank, in Gaza, and in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Over half a million schoolchildren attend UNRWA-operated schools. The organisation is also an important employer of Palestine refugees. The international community has given UNRWA the mandate to carry out these tasks until the refugee issue is solved as part of a negotiated two-state solution between the Israelis and the Palestinians.