Tanaiste Simon Coveney pledges support to the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees
Press release23 June 2020
The Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney T.D. today pledged an additional €1 million in support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) at a virtual Extraordinary Pledging Conference attended by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. The additional funds bring Ireland’s contribution to the agency to €7 million in 2020. UNRWA addresses the humanitarian and development needs of 5.6 million Palestine refugees and provides them with emergency assistance in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Speaking ahead of the meeting the Tanaiste said:
‘Today, more than ever, the global community needs to act together to address the needs of 5.6 million Palestine refugees. Their vulnerabilities are magnified by the current pandemic and its associated economic and social impacts – which could impact on the broader stability of the region.
The humanitarian crises that existed before Covid-19 have not gone away. Having visited the region a number of times in recent years, I have seen first-hand the significant operational challenges and the vital work carried out by the Agency in the field. UNRWA’s provision of essential food, education, health care, relief and social services is now more important than ever.’
Today’s meeting was co-chaired by the Jordanian Minster for Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Mr Ayman Safadi, and the Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr Peter Eriksson. An Tanaiste told the conference Ireland would increase its planned contribution for 2020 by €1 million in recognition of the vulnerability of Palestine refugees to the COVID pandemic and their ongoing insecurity.
The Minister of State for International Development, Ciaran Cannon T.D., added:
“Ireland has been a longstanding supporter of the critical work undertaken by UNRWA with and on behalf of Palestine refugees. Our support at this critical juncture will enable the Agency to redouble its efforts in the face of worsening socioeconomic conditions amongst vulnerable communities.”
23 JUNE 2020
Notes for Editors
-Spanning more than two decades, Ireland’s support to Palestine reflects the Government’s longstanding commitment to justice for the Palestinian people and to the development of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. It is estimated that there are 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
- This was a high level pledging event held via video conference, organised by Jordan and Sweden. The event brought together the largest donors and strongest supporters of UNRWA, with the aim of solidifying political and financial support for the Agency. The meeting held in New York was co-chaired by Jordan and Sweden and UN Secretary-General Guterres made opening remarks. The newly appointed Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, also participated.
- Earlier this year, Ireland disbursed €6 million in funding to UNRWA which included €5 million in core funding to support UNWRA’s 2020 Programme Budget, of which €1 million was earmarked for use in Lebanon and a further €1 million was also allocated towards UNRWA’s Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal, which together with the €1 million pledged today brings Ireland’s 2020 contribution to the Agency to €7 million.
- UNRWA’s Programme Budget is used to provide essential services for 5.6 million Palestine refugees in the fields of health, education, microfinance, infrastructure and camp improvement, protection, relief and social services across its five areas of operation.
- UNRWA swiftly adapted its operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining vital services whilst at the same time preventing an outbreak of the virus in 58 refugee camps in Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Measures included school closures and introduction of pioneering home learning, awareness campaigns, camp disinfection, shifting of health services to telemedicine, and converting mass food distribution to home delivery.
- This additional funding addresses both humanitarian and development needs, providing emergency assistance to the most vulnerable whilst also supporting the Palestinian Authority in public service delivery and civil society organisations in their advocacy of human rights.