Italy Supports Palestinian Refugees With EUR 179 Million

The Government of Italy signed an agreement with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East worth EUR 1.79 million to support the Agency’s health programming.

Specially, the contribution will provide one year’s operating funding for three UNRWA health clinics, namely the UNRWA Khan Younis, Maghazi and Beit Hanoun Health Centres. This will provide access to primary health care to some 177,000 Palestine refugees, through more than 640,000 medical consultations.

Consul General of Italy in Jerusalem, Giuseppe Fedele said, “This contribution provides further proof of Italy’s commitment and confidence in the work of UNRWA, whose role is fundamental in providing basic health services to Palestinian refugees, particularly in Gaza. This support is now more important than ever, in light of the risks posed by COVID-19 to the health system in Gaza, that was already affected by longstanding shortcomings. This contribution is also part of the Team Europe package, which combines efforts from all EU Member States to support the fight against COVID-19 in Palestine.”

UNRWA Chief of Donor Relations, Marc Lassouaoui said, “We are sincerely grateful to the Government of Italy for the long-standing support towards UNRWA and Palestine refugees. This generous contribution is of vital importance to help us delivering health care services in the Gaza strip, especially at a time of great uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic when protecting the health and wellbeing of Palestine refugees is more crucial than ever.”

The UNRWA health programme operates 22 health centres across the besieged Gaza Strip, now in its thirteenth year of blockade. In 2019, UNRWA provided 4.2 million medical consultations to Palestine refugees in Gaza and continues to serve some 1.5 million registered Palestine refugees there with health, education, relief and social services.

The Government of Italy is a strong supporter of UNRWA and in 2019 contributed over EUR 13 million to support the Agency’s vital services to Palestine refugees.

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 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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.