The Government of the Netherlands has contributed US$ 1.97 million to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) emergency assistance programme in the Gaza Strip. This contribution is vital to improving living conditions in the coastal strip, where the population faces a continued downward spiral as a result of the blockade imposed on it for the past eight years.
“This contribution shows the continued support by the Netherlands for the people in Gaza,” the Representative of the Netherlands Birgitta Tazelaar said. To help improve living conditions, the Netherlands has supported agriculture, cultural activities and the promotion of human rights. Ms. Tazelaar emphasized that humanitarian aid is not a permanent solution and that sustainable improvement is the only way to permanently improve people’s future. “In order to achieve that, whilst taking into account Israel’s legitimate security needs, the economy of Gaza needs to be allowed to grow again, which requires opening the borders of Gaza for people and goods,” she said.
UNRWA’s Director of External Relations and Communications Salvatore Lombardo thanked the Government of the Netherlands for its continued commitment to helping Palestine refugees. “The situation in the Gaza Strip has become very difficult. With food insecurity on the rise, we have witnessed a tenfold increase in the number refugees relying on UNRWA food assistance since 2000,” he said. Mr. Lombardo added: “It is only with the help of generous partners, such as the Government of the Netherlands, that we are able to help refugees meet their basic needs.”
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 69 million.