UNRWA says that in the face of serious challenges, it needs financial support to operate in 2023 amid “many challenges”.
The UN refugee agency for Palestine has asked for $1.6bn to work in 2023 after its head warned it was struggling to meet its mandate due to overspending and resource shortages.
UNRWA, which provides aid to the nearly 6 million Palestinians registered in the occupied Palestinian territories and neighboring countries, warned that “many challenges” have led to “serious problems”.
“Many challenges in the past year including the financial crisis, global competition, rising prices, disruptions in the economy, the administration said.
The organization, which has about 30,000 employees – most of them Palestinian refugees, runs more than 700 schools that provide education to half a million children, and provides health, sanitation and humanitarian services, including food and money.
Most of the refugees live in camps that have been converted into built-up, but often unprotected, settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that occupy Israel, the Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
In the besieged Gaza Strip alone, which has been closed for more than 15 years, the organization has helped half of the area’s nearly two million people.
Of the $1.6bn requested, UNRWA said $848m is needed for these major aid projects.
It said another $781.6m was needed for emergency operations.
‘A noble life’
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said the organization “played an important role” for millions of Palestinian refugees.
“We are working to help make basic services more difficult both financially and politically,” he said in a statement.
The organization warned that many Palestinian refugees now live below the poverty line and an increasing number depend on UNRWA for assistance, in some cases to “survive”.
Lazzarini said he had just returned from Syria where he had “witnessed the unspeakable suffering and despair”.
This, he said, was “sadly seen in other places like Lebanon and Gaza where Palestinian refugees are hitting the ground running”.
“Many told me that what they asked for was a dignified life; that’s not a lot to ask for.”
UNRWA has been facing chronic budget deficits, which worsened in 2018 when former US President Donald Trump cut aid to the agency.
Its executives called UNRWA “deeply flawed”, echoing Israeli criticism of the organization that was founded in 1949, just one year after the Palestinian Nakba – or disaster – which refers to the mass expulsion of Palestinians by Zionist forces. who accompanied the founding of the country. Israel.
The administration of US President Joe Biden has withdrawn aid but UNRWA says it is still struggling.
Last year, UNRWA raised only about $1.2bn of the $1.6bn it appealed for, Lazzarini said.
“We cannot and must not always strive to bring in money to contribute to human rights and stability,” Lazzarini said, stressing the need for “a sustainable financial system… .”