Thursday, March 06, 2008

Aid: U.S pledges $148 million for Palestinian refugees

The U.S. government pledge to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has reached $148 million for 2008. This amount includes a total of $91 million ($40 million of which was announced in January) to UNRWA's General Fund supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria; and $57 million to UNRWA's 2008 West Bank and Gaza emergency appeal.

UNRWA's Commissioner-General Karen Abu Zayd thanked the U.S. government for its contributions, saying: 'We are immensely grateful to the United States government for its generous and prompt contributions, exemplary of its continuous commitment to UNRWA. This support is essential for improving the daily lives of Palestine refugees who face hardship in the region.'

The U.S. contribution to the General Fund will support UNRWA's provision of basic and vocational education, primary health care and relief and social services to over 4.4 million registered Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The $57 million American contribution to the West Bank/Gaza emergency appeal will allow UNRWA to provide food assistance to 895,000 Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank, create approximately 190,000 temporary jobs and provide temporary shelter and shelter repair to refugees where needed.

Every year UNRWA educates approximately 490,000 children in more than 650 schools, hosts nine million patient visits in 127 health clinics and one hospital, and provides special hardship assistance to 250,000 of the most vulnerable refugees.

UNRWA's tolerance education program promotes human rights, conflict resolution and tolerance in every UNRWA school. Since the inception of its microfinance program in 1991, UNRWA has awarded 126,000 loans to help Palestinian refugees become self-sufficient and to promote private sector growth.

The United States is UNRWA's largest bilateral donor. In 2007, the U.S. Government contributed $154.15 million to UNRWA, including $90.65 million for UNRWA's General Fund and $63.5 million for its emergency appeals for Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.

Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East