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Funding of €4.7 million for the Palestinian people announced

Budget/funding, News/feature, Palestine, Ireland, 2015

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today announced funding of €4.7 million to UN agencies as part of Ireland’s programme of assistance to the Palestinian people.

The funding will go to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the UN’s Emergency Response Fund.

The funding will help UNRWA provide vital support and assistance to some five million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including schools, health care, social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, microfinance and emergency response.

During the conflict in Gaza last summer, UNRWA opened its schools to provide shelter to hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting and its provision of food aid was the lifeline for thousands of refugee families. Some of UNRWA’s schools are still being used as temporary accommodation for over 10,000 displaced people who have no homes to return to.

Speaking in Gaza this morning during a week-long visit to the Middle East, Minister Flanagan said:

“I have seen for myself today the appalling effects of last year’s conflict in Gaza. The sheer scale of the destruction and the devastating humanitarian impact on a largely refugee population is truly shocking.

“As a steadfast supporter of the Palestinian people, Ireland has been generous in its response to the Gaza crisis.

“I am pleased to announce today that Ireland is providing a further €500,000 for UNRWA’s response in Gaza.”

Minister Flanagan highlighted the longstanding cooperation between Ireland and UNRWA saying:

“Ireland will continue to support UNRWA as it provides a range of social services including health and education services, to some 5 million Palestine refugees.

“The funding today brings our total support to UNRWA to over €48 million since 2005.

“This underlines Ireland’s commitment to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinian people. The long term prosperity and wellbeing of the Palestinian people will, however, depend on successful political negotiations. Ireland will continue to actively support the search for a lasting and peaceful political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Minister Flanagan also paid tribute to the staff of UNRWA:

“I pay particular tribute to UNRWA and its dedicated staff who worked tirelessly during the conflict to provide assistance to the population of Gaza under very difficult and extreme circumstances.

“I convey my sympathies to the families and colleagues of the UNRWA staff who lost their lives during the conflict last year.”


Press Office

16 February 2015

Notes to editors:

Photos to follow from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Press Office.

• Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas development programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

• Today’s funding announcement consists of:

o €4 million for the UNRWA General Fund

o €500,000 to UNRWA’s response in Gaza

o €200,000 to support the UN’s Emergency Response Fund.

• Ireland’s support to the Palestinian people over more than two decades reflects the Government’s longstanding commitment to justice for the Palestinian people and to the development of a viable, sovereign Palestinian state.

• Ireland’s total funding to the Palestinian people in 2014 amounted to over €11 million.

• This funding addresses both humanitarian and development needs; providing emergency assistance to the most vulnerable while also supporting the Palestinian Authority in public service delivery and civil society organisations in advocating for human rights.

• The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.  Today UNRWA provides services and assistance to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

• As an immediate response to the Gaza conflict last year, Ireland provided €500,000 to UNRWA’s Gaza Emergency Flash Appeal in July 2014.  Minister Flanagan pledged a further €2.5 million when he attended the International Gaza Reconstruction Conference in Cairo last October.  €500,000 of this was provided to UNRWA’s Gaza Emergency Flash Appeal later the same month with the remaining €2 million to be provided over a two year period (2015-2016) to the Palestinian Authority and key UN partners for longer term recovery assistance.

• The funding announced today includes €4 million for UNRWA’s General Fund which provides a full range of social services including health and education services, to Palestine refugees across its five areas of operation.  Over the period 2005-2014, Ireland has provided €35.65 million to UNRWA’s General Fund.

• Ireland has also been a generous supporter of UNRWA’s Gaza Emergency Appeals with over €5.6 million in humanitarian assistance provided since 2006.

• The UN’s Emergency Response Fund provides support for humanitarian activities to Palestinian communities in Gaza and the West Bank at the onset of sudden emergencies.