The agency previously called for the much-needed funding of $50-80 million to keep running until the end of the year.
Qatar has stepped in to provide the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) with $2.5 million in emergency support as the humanitarian entity faces a funding crisis.
The urgent support came under an emergency contribution agreement signed between the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) and UNRWA on Wednesday. QFFD said the donation “is a supplementary end-of-year funding”.
“This emergency contribution agreement comes at a critical time not just to support the UNRWA funding shortfall but to strengthen its pivotal role in protecting the rights of Palestine refugees at risk,” Khalifa Al-Kuwari, QFFD’s Director General, said.
Under the agreement, QFFD would also help UNRWA attend to the needs of tens of thousands Palestinian refugees stripped out of their homes as the Israeli occupation of Palestine continues.
“Palestine refugees remain at the top of the state of Qatar’s agenda, especially given the refugees’ ever-growing humanitarian, health, and educational needs. QFFD hopes to improve the lives of numerous underserved communities in Palestine and change their lives for the better,” added Al-Kuwari.
Commenting on Qatar’s donation to the agency, Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, also pointed to the importance of the Palestinian cause to the Gulf state, referencing the collective acts of solidarity with Palestine during the World Cup.
“In the aftermath of the World Cup, where solidarity with Palestinians was very prominent, this gesture by Qatar[…] is the first coming from the region. We are truly grateful for this generosity; it will go a long way in telling the refugees that they are not alone,” Lazzarini said.
UNRWA has suffered with what it described as “chronic underfunding” that has hampered its ability to support Palestine’s refugees while also struggling to pay staff salaries.
The agency has called for much-needed funding of around $50-80 million to maintain operations until the end of the year.
According to QFFD, Palestine refugees are also facing “some of the worst socio-economic conditions in years.”
The agency has been recording a rise in needs of Palestinian refugees amid a global financial crises that has seen many of the underprivileged population struggling to feed their families.
According to Palestine’s news agency (WAFA), 1.1 million people in Gaza also rely on UNRWA’s support as they continue to live under an illegal siege imposed by Israel since 2007.
WAFA added that Palestinians in Lebanon “have hit rock bottom” as those in the West Bank suffered from “the most violent year on record in more than a decade and a half”.
In October, UNRWA issued an urgent appeal for $13 million to support Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which has been grappling with its worst economic crisis in decades. The crisis has left many refugees unable to go to school as their families struggle to make ends meet.
The UN agency UNRWA was established in 1949 in light of the forced dispossession of Palestinians by the Zionist state to make way for illegal Jewish settlers.
Between 1947 and 1949, at least 750,000 Palestinian from a 1.9 million native population were forced out of their own land by Zionists militias who later established Israel.
At least 450 towns and villages were depopulated at the time, preventing millions of Palestinians from home lands for decades. At the time, Israeli forces ethnically cleansed and destroyed at least 530 villages and cities and killed 15,000 Palestinians, according to Al Jazeera.
According to 2020 figures by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), there are up to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees, with at least 28.4% scattered in 58 UNRWA-run camps in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza.