India donates $2.5 million to UN agency for Palestinian refugees

Earlier on Sunday, India had delivered 32 tonnes of humanitarian assistance via the El Arish Airport in Egypt

By PTI

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Palestinians receive bags of flour at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) distribution centre in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP
Palestinians receive bags of flour at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) distribution centre in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. — AFP

Published: Tue 21 Nov 2023, 6:06 PM

India has donated $2.5 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, prompting the UNRWA on Tuesday to welcome the generous contribution at a "difficult time", particularly in Gaza.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), functional since 1950, carries out direct relief and work programmes for registered Palestine refugees. It is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from UN Member States.

India on Monday gave UNRWA $2.5 million as part of its annual contribution of $5 million for the year 2023-24 to support the agency's core programmes and services, including education, healthcare, relief, and social services provided to Palestinian refugees, the Representative Office of India at Ramallah said.

The contribution was handed over by the Representative of India (ROI) to Palestine, Renu Yadav, to the Director of Partnerships, Department of External Relations of UNRWA, Karim Amer.

The ROI underlined India's continued support for the agency's activities in the region and the services it provides to Palestinian refugees during the handover ceremony at UNRWA's field office in Jerusalem, an official press release said.

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“Confirming that UNRWA received a very generous contribution from India yesterday (Monday), which is most welcome during these difficult times and in the face of huge needs across the region, particularly in Gaza,” a spokesperson for UNRWA, Tamara Alrifai, told PTI.

The UNRWA has been struggling to provide basic services to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since the October 7 Israel-Hamas conflict which has prompted more than two-thirds of the Gaza population – of approximately 2.3 million – to flee their homes.

Earlier on November 19, India had delivered 32 tonnes of “humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine” via the El-Arish Airport in Egypt. Since 2018, India has given $27.5 million to UNRWA.

During an Extraordinary Virtual Ministerial Pledging Conference for UNRWA held on June 23, 2020, India announced that it would contribute $10 million to UNRWA over the next two years.

Prior to the war in Gaza, UNRWA was already facing an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability, and their deepening poverty. The agency is mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees registered with it across its five fields of operation.

Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection, and microfinance among Palestinian refugees.

During the first-ever Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Palestine in February 2018, India increased its annual financial contribution fourfold to the UNRWA core budget, from $1.25 million to $5 million.

India has also made a strong appeal to other traditional donors of UNRWA to consider enhancing their contributions as well as to non-donor member states to consider contributing to the agency in solidarity with the Palestine refugees.

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