Nineteen countries pledge financial support to UN agency helping Palestinians

3 December 2003

Nineteen countries pledged today to donate $72 million towards next year’s budget for the United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees, but the agency says much more is needed because of the deteriorating economic situation in the Palestinian territories.

At a meeting of the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee for Voluntary Contributions in New York, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugee in the Near East (UNRWA) said its overall budget for next year – $330 million – represented a 5 per cent fall in real terms, despite an increase in the number of refugees requiring its help.

UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Peter Hansen, told the meeting that its resources had not kept up with the increasing demands from refugees. Schools, training centres, health clinics and installations were often left to operate on a maintenance budget, he said.

The agency provides education, health, micro-finance and social services to more than four million refugees spread across Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

But senior UNRWA officials thanked the donor countries, saying their combined pledges of $72 million are a significant rise on last year’s total of $47.5 million. At the meeting, representatives from the European Union, Japan, Turkey, the United States and the United Kingdom also promised to donate undisclosed amounts at a later date.

The countries that pledged to help today are Austria, Bahrain, China, Cyprus, Denmark, India, Indonesia, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. The Observer for the Holy See also made a pledge.

 

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