Belgium pledges multi-annual support to UNRWA, the UN Agency assisting Palestinian refugees

In response to the call of UNRWA's Commissioner-General, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo has decided to allocate 19 million EURO over the next 3 years to UNRWA, the United Nations agency which provides humanitarian help to Palestinian refugees. Belgium is one of the few donors that provides this kind of multi-annual funding. Considering the financial difficulties which UNRWA currently faces, the Belgian annual contribution will be disbursed immediately. The US government decided yesterday to suspend half of its support to UNRWA.

Alexander De Croo: “I have a lot of respect for UNRWA’s work, which has to operate in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Living conditions in Gaza, Syria, the West bank and elsewhere in the region are particularly tough. For a lot of Palestinian refugees the UNRWA is the last life buoy. With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalization and extreme violence.”

Belgium is together with other EU member states and the European Commission by far UNRWA’s largest donor. The coming months and years Belgium will, along with the EU and countries from the region, continue to support UNRWA and the Palestinian refugees. The visit of Palestinian president Abbas next Monday in Brussels is a first opportunity to exchange thoughts in this regard.

UNRWA was established in 1949 in order to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees, who in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War numbered about 700.000. Today, UNRWA offers to approximately 5 million Palestine refugees services such as education, health care and housing. UNRWA is active in Palestinian occupied territories, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. UNRWA defends also the rights of Palestinian refugees, in line with international law.