The European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) yesterday (7 June) signed a Joint Declaration on EU support to UNRWA for 2017-2020. Both parties also signed a financial agreement for the EU funding to the UNRWA program budget for this year, which covers the Agency’s essential services in terms of education, health care, relief, and social services. The 2017-2020 Declaration boosts the political nature of the EU-UNRWA partnership and reaffirms the European Union’s commitment to promoting the rights of Palestine refugees and supporting the long-term financial health of the agency amidst operational challenges and budgetary constraints.
The EU will contribute to the funding of quality education for about half a million children, primary health care for about 3.5 million patients and assistance to more than 250,000 vulnerable Palestine refugees. The EU and UNRWA also announced to finance a €82 million commitment to the UNRWA Program Budget for 2017, which will cover salaries of 32,000 local UNRWA personnel, most of whom are Palestinian refugees themselves. The money will also contribute to the running costs of close to 700 UNRWA schools and 140 health-care centers.
Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, praised the UNRWA’s role in the Middle East. “With its tireless work, UNRWA keeps supporting Palestine refugees, providing education, promoting socio-economic development and stability in the Middle East,” she said and stressed that “the international support is key to UNRWA: the European Union will keep investing in one of the pillars of its Middle East peace policy.” EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood also reiterated the EU’s commitment to support UNRWA in its further reform efforts, thus drawing on the important work that is already underway.