UK pledges $12m in extra funding for UNRWA

Middle East Monitor  /  September 14, 2023

UK Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, today announced additional funding towards the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) during his visit to the Jalazone Refugee Camp, located north of Ramallah in the Occupied West Bank.

He also held a meeting with Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner-General, during which UNRWA provided the Foreign Secretary with essential information regarding the protection challenges that Palestinian refugees encounter in the Camp, as well as in other areas of the West Bank.

Moreover, they discussed the Agency’s efforts, including its provision of crucial services, such as education and healthcare. The Minister also spoke with young girls and boys who are part of the UNRWA Student Parliament, during which the students shared insights into their contributions within their schools and local communities. 

“On my visit to Jalazone Refugee Camp today, I have seen first-hand the impact of UNRWA’s work supporting Palestinian refugees in the West Bank. UK funding is helping to support millions of Palestinian refugees across the region with vital health,”  the Foreign Secretary said.

Last month, the UK donated UNRWA £10 million ($12.74 million) to support the Agency’s “Program Budget.” This funding is crucial for ensuring the provision of essential services and the payment of salaries to frontline workers and staff.

Additionally, the UK has reaffirmed its commitment to addressing the pressing financial issues facing the Agency by pledging an extra £10 million (12.74 million).

In response, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said, “I am grateful for the additional funding that the UK is providing, re-emphasizing the decades-long close partnership between the UK and UNRWA. The Agency’s services, including the delivery of education to over half a million children, are more critical than ever given the unprecedented challenges Palestine Refugees are facing.” 

It comes after the UK more than halved its funds for UNRWA from £42.5 million ($57.2 million) in 2020 to £20.8 million ($28 million) in 2021. The UK was the third largest overall donor to UNRWA in 2020, but the cuts put it in the second tier of contributors.

UNRWA depends almost entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states, making it extremely vulnerable to pro-Israel lobby groups which are influential in various key capitals.