Belgium has advanced its annual contribution of EUR 7 million towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) 2022 program budget to support the Agency’s services to Palestine refugees to the early part of 2022, according to a UNRWA press release. This crucial and flexible funding is part of a current multi-year agreement between the Kingdom of Belgium and UNRWA totaling EUR 21 million between 2021-2023, it said.
This contribution enables UNRWA to continue delivering essential services to one of the most vulnerable populations in the Middle East during the early part of the year, it added. These services encompass education for over half a million Palestine refugee school students, primary health care services to close to two million refugee patients, amidst a global pandemic and a social safety net for some 400,000 poor refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
UNRWA services contribute to achieving the UN Agenda 2030 and contribute to regional stability and peace in a region confronted with multiple conflicts and crises, said the press release. Belgium Consul General in Jerusalem, Wilfried Pfeffer, said: “Belgium is committed to sustainable and predictable support to UNRWA through our multiannual contributions and projects. Our support to UNRWA aims at ensuring the continuation of vital health, education and social services for Palestinian refugees in the region.” This funding builds on the EUR 11.5 million given by Belgium in 2021, which included a EUR 1 million contribution towards emergency cash assistance in Syria and EUR 3.5 million towards the Education in Emergencies Program, which will address the most urgent education and psychosocial needs of more than 370,000 UNRWA students affected by instability, conflict, or poverty in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Agency’s five fields of operation.
Director of UNRWA Partnerships Karim Amer said: “The longstanding reliable support of Belgium and the recognition of the need for early disbursement demonstrates why the Kingdom of Belgium is such an important donor and a key supporter of Palestine refugees. More specifically, the diversity and flexibility of funding demonstrate an understanding of the complexities of the region and the need for a variety of services that support Palestine refugees of all ages.” Belgium has been an active and supportive member of the Agency Advisory Commission since 1953. In 2021 Belgium (including the Government of Flanders) was the 17th largest donor to the Agency, with a total contribution of EUR 11,659,666 million.