UNRWA Commissioner-General to Tell Helsinki Conference: “Don’t Forget Over Half a Million Palestinians from Syria”

Press Statement
UNRWA Spokesperson Chris Gunness

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Helsinki, 24 January 2017: The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency Pierre Krähenbühl, will tell an international conference later today in Helsinki that “the world should not forget some 560,000 Palestine refugees from whose lives have been impacted by the deepening conflict in Syria”. The conference has been called to launch the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria crisis.

Mr Krähenbühl, who will be speaking on a high level panel on education in emergencies and the protection of rights, will update delegates and explain that “today 430,000 Palestine refugees – 95 per cent of those Palestine refugees remaining in Syria – are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance. Overall, 280,000 are internally displaced and around 43,000 are trapped in hard-to-reach or besieged areas. In addition to this, there are more than 30,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and nearly 17,000 who have fled to Jordan, where they face a marginalised and precarious existence.”

Mr Krähenbühl will stress that “while the physical devastation of the conflict is visible for all to see, the human consequences, the accumulated fear and suffering, are at times more difficult to map out. In Syria, we are dealing with yet another generation of Palestinians enduring the trauma of displacement and loss in its multiple forms.”

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) recently launched an international appeal for Palestinians caught up in the Syria regional crisis for US$ 411 million. UNRWA aims to provide humanitarian assistance, protection and basic services.

With its dynamic and flexible operations, carried out by 4,000 mainly Palestinian staff, UNRWA is the largest direct provider of assistance to Palestine refugees affected by the Syria conflict. Interventions include cash assistance, water and sanitation, food and essential non-food items, shelter, health, education, livelihoods, microfinance and protection.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.