Geneva, 26 January 2023 (TDI): The head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini briefed journalists at a press conference.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) appealed for a $1.6 billion fund to help Palestinian refugees.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), briefs journalists at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Palestinian Refugee facing Global Crises

Head of UNRWA, said that due to the global crises Palestinian refugees are experiencing told journalists skyrocketing levels of poverty and unemployment. This has put extra strain on the UN agencies busy with relief-related work. 

 “On the one hand, we are asked to deliver public-like services to one of the most underprivileged communities in the region.

We are a UN agency (and) abide by UN values, but in reality, we are funded like an NGO, meaning that we depend on voluntary funding from Member States,” stated by UN Head. 

Many Palestinian refugees are living below the poverty line and dependent on humanitarian assistance. Syria’s Palestine refugees are mirrored in Gaza and Lebanon, where more than nine in 10 live below the poverty line. 

Increased Poverty

The poverty levels in Palestinian refugee camps are increasing in Lebanon. A similar situation can be witnessed in Gaza where more than one million people are also dependent on our food assistance.

The Head of the UN said that the agency is busy providing services and humanitarian support but running out of funds. For this purpose, UNRWA appealed for $1.6 billion. 

In the wake of a renewed escalation of violence in Palestine, Palestinian families are taking refuge at UNRWA Beit Lahiya Preparatory Girls’ School in northern Gaza.

Austerity Measures

The funding shortfall is of concern due to that UNRWA has expanded e-health access and telemedicine. Also, launched a digital learning platform. 

“It didn’t meet all our needs, and that forced the agency to put in place austerity measures. And austerity comes at a cost; today, for instance, we regularly have up to 50 children per teacher attending class,” said UN Head. 

Moreover, doctors are also facing a tough situation and limited period for examining each patient. UNRWA provided seven million medical consultations in 2022. 

UNRWA’s 2023 appeal for $1.6 billion includes $848 million for core services such as health, education, relief, social services, and protection.

Furthermore, $781.6 million is required for emergency operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.