The agency was established in 1949 in light of the forced dispossession of Palestinians by the Zionist state to make way for illegal Jewish settlers.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) praised Qatar’s “central role” in supporting its efforts as it grapples with a “chronic funding crisis”.
Speaking to Qatar’s news agency (QNA), UNRWA’s media advisor Adnan Abu Hasna noted that the agency is facing major challenges amid a steady rise in Palestinian refugees, which have now surpassed six million across its five areas of service.
The six areas cover Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip.
Abu Hasna also highlighted the Gulf state’s $2.5 million emergency support through the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) last month that has helped its navigate amid a major funding crisis.
Under the agreement, QFFD is also set to help UNRWA attend to the needs of tens of thousands Palestinian refugees stripped out of their homes as the Israeli occupation of Palestine continues.
Commenting on UNRWA’s challenges, Abu Hasna said that the agency concluded the year 2022 with what he said was its “largest financial deficit in its history” of $80 million.
“About 560,000 students receive their education in 715 schools, and one million and 700,000 receive food aid in Syria, Gaza and the rest of the regions, and hundreds of thousands of others receive cash assistance, in addition to the millions who receive treatment in clinics spread in the five areas of operations,” he added.
The worsening situation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under siege for almost 16 years, is contributing to the agency’s challenges as it has further increased the number of refugees along with a demand for aid, the UNRWA official said.
Since 2007, Gazans have been living under a blockade, turning the Palestinian enclave into what has been widely known as “the world’s largest open-air prison”.
A total of 42% of first-grade students at UNRWA’s school suffer from mental disorders, with Gaza being subjected to repeated attacks by the Israeli occupation.
In August last year, Israel led another military offensive on the blockaded enclave and killed 49 Palestinians including 17 children.
Last year, 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.