UNRWA issues a $1.6 billion appeal and warns that Palestinian refugees will soon reach “rock bottom.”

Date:

Palestinian refugees will soon reach "rock bottom

  • news by AUN News correspondent
  • Wednesday, January 25, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, told media in Geneva that the agency, which began the year with almost $70 million in arrears, has been under tremendous stress due to the concurrent worldwide crises and the increasing poverty and unemployment rates among Palestine refugees.

  • “Gaza and Lebanon, where more than nine out of ten people live below the poverty line, and Lebanon all reflect the catastrophic plight of Palestine refugees from Syria.

  • Similar challenging circumstances exist in UNRWA’s healthcare system, which offered seven million medical consultations in 2022.

  • The Commissioner-General noted that each patient saw the doctor for, on average, a little longer than three minutes.

  • The $848 million for core services, including health, education, assistance, social services, and protection, is part of UNRWA’s $1.6 billion 2023 appeal.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, told media in Geneva that the agency, which began the year with almost $70 million in arrears, has been under tremendous stress due to the concurrent worldwide crises and the increasing poverty and unemployment rates among Palestine refugees.

“On the one hand, we are required to provide services akin to those of the public to one of the poorest groups in the area. Although we represent the UN and uphold its principles, we receive funds from Member States voluntarily, much like an NGO.

Today, most Palestinian refugees live in poverty, and many rely on UNRWA for food and other aid forms.

Eyewitness

When the UNRWA Commissioner-General recently visited Palestinian refugees in Syria, he observed, “I believed they had reached rock bottom some years ago, but I learn each time that this agony individuals are dealing with is getting worse and worse.” “I experienced unspeakable suffering and sorrow.”

Gaza, and Lebanon, where more than nine out of ten people live below the poverty line, and Lebanon all reflect the catastrophic plight of Palestine refugees from Syria. The Commissioner-General said, “Many told me that all they asked for was a life of dignity, that’s not much to ask for.”

Completely reliant

“The Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon have become more impoverished,”

Since there has been a significant increase from earlier assessments, we are the community’s last hope. The same thing occurred in Gaza, where we have more than a million Palestinians who rely on our food aid.

Mr. Lazzarini emphasised the vast extent of UNRWA’s activity and stated that the organisation offered services similar to those of a tiny government. For this highly vulnerable population of Palestinian refugees, he continued, “we act in actuality as a Minister of Education, a Minister of Primary Health, a Minister of Municipalities, and a Ministry of Social Services.”

We also offer urgent humanitarian aid, so I made this morning’s plea for $1.6 billion.

In response to a renewed escalation of violence, a Palestine refugee family find refuge at the UNRWA Beit Lahiya Preparatory Girls’ School in northern Gaza.

©UNRWA Mohammed Hinnawi/File

A Palestinian refugee family seeks safety in the UNRWA Beit Lahiya Preparatory Girls’ School in northern Gaza in reaction to an uptick in violence.

Austerity programme

Despite ongoing financial difficulties, UNRWA has extended access to telemedicine and e-health services and introduced a digital learning platform. We had a “zero growth” budget over the previous three years, according to Mr. Lazzarini.

“Clearly, it didn’t satisfy all of our needs, which compelled the agency to implement austerity measures. And austerity has a price; for instance, at present, we often have up to 50 students per teacher in the classroom.

Similar challenging circumstances exist in UNRWA’s healthcare system, which offered seven million medical consultations in 2022. The Commissioner-General noted that each patient saw the doctor for, on average, a little longer than three minutes.

The $848 million for core services, including health, education, assistance, social services, and protection, is part of UNRWA’s $1.6 billion 2023 appeal. For emergency efforts in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, an additional $781.6 million are needed.

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