Finland supports humanitarian work done by UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA

Finland has allocated one million euros to support the flash appeal for Gaza, launched by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA. The funding will be used to provide, for example, food, shelters and health services to Palestinians in Gaza.

The conflict between Israel and Gaza, which escalated in May, has deteriorated the situation of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and the West Bank. A significant number of buildings were destroyed, among them for example health centres, schools and UN buildings. The only coronavirus test laboratory was also damaged, and vaccinations have been therefore suspended. The coronavirus situation was very poor in Gaza even before the attacks.

The humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees has been challenging for a long time in all of the geographical regions where UNRWA is operating (Palestinian territories in Gaza and the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some regions where UNRWA is active have had to limit the provision of health services to a significant extent.  

During the attacks in Gaza, approximately 800,000 people lived without water, and electricity was available only occasionally, which makes work difficult in hospitals, for example. UNRWA schools have provided shelter for almost 50,000 people in Gaza. The ceasefire, which was declared on Friday 21 May 2021, is expected to improve the situation to some extent, but there is still need for food, shelters, psychosocial services and other emergency relief.

“UNRWA is doing valuable work in challenging humanitarian environments and it produces high-quality services. Recent events in Gaza have increased the need for international support to enable UNRWA continue its efforts to help Palestinian refugees,” says Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade Ville Skinnari.

Finland is UNRWA’s long-term supporter. Finland’s core funding to UNRWA is EUR 5 million a year. In 2020, due to UNRWA's critical financial situation and the additional challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, Finland granted EUR 4 million in additional contributions to UNRWA’s programme budget. In 2020, Finland was UNRWA’s 18th biggest donor country.

Lauratuulia Lehtinen, Director, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 46 9212030

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