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Commissioner General Krähenbühl underlined that through various new donors and an upsurge in donations from existing donors, such as the European Union (EU), UNRWA had managed to overcome the funding crisis of 2018 caused by the redrawing of US funding. He especially thanked the EU for the additional USD 40 million in funding received in the second half of 2018 and for its continued vital political support. EU Ambassador Walter Stevens, who headed the meeting, emphasized that the EU remained committed to supporting UNRWA and its mandate. The EU and its member states are currently the biggest donor to the UN agency.
The meeting also addressed UNRWA's work in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Commissioner General Krähenbühl noted that despite the funding difficulties of 2018, schools for over half a million refugee children remained open, health clinics served three million patients and over 1.5 million received life-saving emergency assistance. The greatest concerns for Palestinian refugees remained the complete absence of hope on the horizon, on a political and personal level.
Krähenbühl was in Geneva to present the 2019 UNRWA Appeal totalling USD 1,2 billion to sustain the Agency's vital core services and life-saving humanitarian aid for Palestine refugees. Since 1971, the EU and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. The Agency is currently assisting 5.4 million refugees, up from the original 750,000 refugees of the 1940s.
Read more about the EU's support of UNRWA here.