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Mr. Commissioner General,
I would like to start by reiterating the European Union's deep and genuine appreciation for UNRWA’s work and for its dedicated staff who are working in an extremely difficult and challenging context.
This context, unfortunately, is not getting any easier and has negative impacts on Palestine refugees. We meet today against the backdrop of upsurges of violence in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority's precarious financial situation, Israeli new elections and the unclear prospects of a new US Peace Plan.
UNRWA is an essential provider of vital services to millions of Palestine refugees, and a stabilising force in the region. In particular, the provision of health services for all refugees and education for many young Palestinians is important not only in Gaza and Syria, but also in Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank including East Jerusalem. The EU acknowledges, appreciates and supports the essential contribution made by UNRWA to the well-being, protection and human development of Palestine refugees.
UNRWA and its services continue to make a key political contribution to the viability of the two-state solution, which remains the only realistic way to achieve a just and lasting peace and which can ultimately only be reached through negotiations by the parties. Until such a solution is reached, we will continue to support UNRWA in all its fields of operations, noting with concern the current situation in East Jerusalem.
The European Union remains a staunch and predictable supporter of UNRWA, both politically and financially. We commend UNRWA for its tremendous efforts to carry out efficiency gains and we will continue to support UNRWA in the future also in this regard.
This leads me to express my deep appreciation for the generosity and efforts of the host countries in support of the Agency and the welfare of Palestine refugees. To allow UNRWA to be more responsive to the fundamental needs of Palestine refugees and to strengthen its financial stability, we also rely on your continued and reinforced cooperation.
Looking at the financial dimension, last year the EU stepped up its already substantial support to UNRWA. In total, we contributed an unprecedented 179 M USD making the EU the single largest contributor to UNRWA’s operations. This year, we frontloaded our 82 M EUR (92.8 M USD) annual contribution, in addition to 4 M EUR (4.5 M USD) of humanitarian aid.
Today, in front of the extremely dire financial situation faced by UNRWA, it is my honour to announce that the EU will make an exceptional additional contribution of 21 M EUR, equivalent to 23.7 M USD, to support UNRWA in providing their services to Palestine refugees.
This new contribution brings the European Commission's global contribution to 121 M USD (107 M EUR) in 2019.
It is my sincere hope that this announcement will encourage other countries across the globe to come forward with additional funding, as a strong sign of unity in our support to UNRWA. In addition, I would encourage other donors to provide multi-annual contributions to increase UNRWA’s budget predictability and sustainability.
We on the EU side have done and will continue to do our utmost to reach out to existing and potentially new donors and fully support the renewal of UNRWA's mandate and the continuity of UNRWA's services.
Commissioner General, Deputy Commissioner General,
We thank you and your staff for your dedication and commitment. The European Union remains a strong, reliable and predictable supporter of the Agency and we will strive to enable UNRWA to continue its operations until a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to the final status issue of Palestine refugees is reached.