Flanders pledges nearly half a million euros for Palestinian refugees
The government of Flanders has signed a multi-year agreement with UNRWA, the UN agency tasked with providing services to more than five million Palestinian refugees
‘Our humanitarian duty’
This is the third agreement between UNRWA and the government of Flanders since 2010 and helps to ensure funding that will allow UNRWA to continue to provide uninterrupted services to Palestine refugees. This includes providing education to 532,000 pupils in more than 700 UNRWA schools across the Middle East.
UNRWA is a UN agency established in 1949 to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
Education has long been a priority sector for the government of Flanders, which is reflected in its support to My Voice, My School, an initiative that allows students from Flemish schools and UNRWA schools in Syria and Gaza to exchange and share experiences.
“UNRWA makes a crucial difference to the lives of vulnerable Palestinian refugees and to the stability of the Middle East,” said Bourgeois. “It is of utmost importance to invest in education to avoid a lost generation. For Palestinian refugee children, this means keeping hope alive that they can build a future, but it also means fighting radicalisation and is, therefore, an investment in our own security.”
In addition to signing a multi-year agreement with UNRWA, Flanders will support the 2019 UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Appeal with funding of €100,000. The Syria conflict has had a major impact on UNRWA’s work, as it saw a 50% reduction of both funding and food and the amounts of assistance provided per person.
“Clearly, this has the potential to have a detrimental impact on Palestine refugees’ resilience and copying mechanisms,” said Bourgeois. “Supporting UNRWA is our humanitarian duty, even more so in light of the increasing health needs of Palestine refugees and the remarkable efforts of UNRWA and the international donor community to cope with the unprecedented financial shortfall”.
Photo: Taghrid Mohammad/UNRWA