On 31 August 2022, Commission-General Philippe Lazzarini briefed Members of the European Parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs about the deteriorating situation of Palestine refugees in the Middle East, including the impact of the Ukraine crisis and the last escalation in Gaza earlier this month. During the exchange of views in Brussels, the Commissioner-General also addressed the critical financial situation of the Agency and thanked the Members of the European Parliament for playing a key role in the fruitful EU-UNRWA partnership.
European Commission Brussels, 09 Aug 2022
The European Union confirmed today its role as a long-standing, predictable and reliable partner of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and one of its largest donors.
The European Commission adopted €261 million as the multiannual contribution that will allow to secure predictable financial resources to the Agency for the provision of essential services to Palestine refugees. In line with the EU-UNRWA Joint Declaration 2021-2024, it includes the EU’s three-year funding for UNRWA for a total of €246 million, coupled with an additional €15 million from the Food and Resilience Facility to address food insecurity and mitigate the impact of the Ukraine war.
High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, said: “The EU as UNRWA’s long-term partner is committed to continue with political and financial support for its activities. UNRWA remains crucial for providing the necessary protection and essential services for Palestine refugees, supporting peace and stability in the region. The EU will continue to support UNRWA in all its fields of operations, including in East Jerusalem. Our support to UNRWA is a key element in our strategy of contributing to the promotion of security, stability and development in the region, which also helps to keep alive the prospects of sustainable peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”
EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Várhelyi, said: “We remain a reliable and predictable partner, and a top donor of UNRWA. Others need to step up and join the EU in providing predictable multiannual funding. The Agency plays a stabilising role in the region. It must continue to do so, with a clear focus on its core mandate. We will continue to work with UNRWA to strengthen the Agency’s governance systems and help step up transparency and sound management. We remain also firmly committed to promote quality education for Palestinian children and ensure full compliance with UNESCO standards in all education material.”
Since 1971, the strategic partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has been based on the shared objective of supporting human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and of promoting stability in the Middle East.
On 17 November 2021, UNRWA Commissioner General Lazzarini, HR/VP Borrell, and Commissioner Várhelyi signed the EU-UNRWA “Joint Declaration on EU support to UNRWA (2021-2024)”, marking the 50th anniversary of the EU-UNRWA partnership. In the Joint Declaration, the European Union commits to continue supporting UNRWA politically and securing predictable, multi-annual financial resources. UNRWA is experiencing significant challenges in fulfilling its mandate due to recurrent financial shortfalls.
There is an urgent need for UNRWA to reform and to identify innovative ways to maintain the provision of services to refugees. The EU supports UNRWA in taking forward these internal reform efforts to secure a sound and sustainable financial basis, which includes focusing on core services for the most vulnerable.
In addition to that, the EU continues to do its utmost to reach out to existing and potential donors to put the Agency on a sustainable fiscal model and to ensure fairer contribution sharing.