Switzerland and UN relief agency to host conference on aid to Palestine refugees

20 February 2004

The United Nations and the Government of Switzerland today announced plans to host a conference this June on the future of humanitarian aid to Palestine refugees.

The Conference, to be held in Geneva and backed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), will bring together over 65 countries and intergovernmental organizations to strategize about helping millions of those in need.

The two-day meeting, set to open on 7 June, will tackle such issues as children, housing, infrastructure and regional economic development. In addition to workshops and speeches, the event will include a live link to refugees speaking from a school in Jordan.

“Over the past decades, the Palestine refugees have proven themselves resilient, but they continue to need help so that they can help themselves,” said Agency chief Peter Hansen. “UNRWA sees this conference as a way of raising the profile of their plight and of charting the best way to help them make full use of their potential.”

UNRWA’s 24,000 staff – most of them refugees themselves – provide education, health care, social services and emergency aid to over 4 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan Lebanon and Syria. The Agency, with a regular cash and in-kind budget of $350 million for this year, faces severe funding shortfalls which have eroded living standards for the refugees.

 

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