Norway announces multi-million dollar support package for Palestinian refugees
Norway has announced a multi-million dollar financial support package for Palestinian refugees last week at a meeting in Oslo with UNRWA United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) chief Philippe Lazzarini.
Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt said the Nordic country would contribute a total of NOK 1.1 billion ($124.5 million) over four years to support UNRWA.
This multi-year funding - the first of its kind from Norway - will be used to ensure Palestinian refugees continue to have access to vital services, including education and health care, and for the delivery of emergency assistance.
“I am deeply concerned about the UNRWA’s financial situation,” said Huitfeldt.
“UNRWA’s ability to provide services is important for stability in the Middle East. Norway recognises this and will continue to give priority to providing support to the agency, in solidarity with the refugees,” she added.
Lazzarini expressed his gratitude for the sustained funding package, adding that it represented “Norway’s steadfast commitment to Palestine refugees”.
UNWRA has been imperilled by an existential funding crisis in recent years.
The agency had a $100 million shortfall last year, at a time when Covid-19 compounded with chronic deprivation and suffering meant humanitarian needs were greater than ever.
The UK was the third-largest overall donor to UNRWA in 2020, however, cuts to overseas assistance shrunk its grant by more than 50 percent in 2021.
The UN agency announced a $1.6 billion funding appeal last month to help counter "chronic" budget shortfalls.
UNRWA, established in 1949, supports some 5.7 million Palestinian refugees across the occupied West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.