Ireland is a longstanding supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which provides essential services to 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees, 1.4 million of whom are in Gaza.
In the context of the challenge posed by the COVID 19 pandemic, UNRWA's work in providing vital services including education, healthcare and humanitarian relief is more important than ever. Ireland recognises that the pandemic and its associated economic and social impacts magnifies the vulnerabilities of the refugee population, whilst also threatening the broader stability of the region.
To date in 2020, Ireland has disbursed €6 million in funding to UNRWA, comprising €5 million in core funding to UNRWA’s Programme Budget, of which €1 million was earmarked for use in Lebanon, and a further €1 million in support of UNRWA’s Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal. In addition to these amounts, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, pledged a further €1 million to the UNRWA Programme Budget at an extraordinary virtual Pledging Conference in June which will be disbursed shortly. Overall, this will bring Ireland’s contribution to UNRWA in 2020 to €7 million and €33.5 million in the five years since 2016.
As well as financial support, Ireland plays an active role within the Advisory Commission of UNRWA. Ireland's Representative Office in Ramallah engages with the agency on an ongoing basis, while the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney TD, has met UNRWA representatives and observed its work at first hand when visiting the region.
Ireland recognises that the humanitarian crises that existed before COVID-19 have not gone away and that Palestine Refugees will continue to require the support of the international community. Consequently we will continue to offer policy and financial support for UNRWA's important work in the period ahead.