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Funding Appeal 2023 - UNRWA 24 January 2023

Palestinian refugees hitting ‘rock bottom’, warns UNRWA in $1.6 billion funding appeal

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) appealed on Tuesday for $1.6 billion to fund core operations this year, as the people it helps face hitting “rock bottom”.

Head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, told journalists in Geneva that competing global crises, and skyrocketing levels of poverty and unemployment among Palestine refugees have put immense strain on them - and the agency, which started the year some $70 million in arrears.

“On the one hand we are asked to deliver public-like services to one of the most under-privileged communities in the region. We obviously are a UN agency (and) abide by UN values, but in reality we are funded like an NGO, meaning that we depend on voluntary funding from Member States.”

Most Palestine refugees now live below the poverty line and many depend on humanitarian assistance, including cash and food, from UNRWA.

“I thought that they had reached rock bottom some time ago, but I discover each time that this misery people are confronted with is getting worse and worse,” the UNRWA Commissioner-General said, of his recent visit to meet Palestinian refugees in Syria. “I witnessed first-hand indescribable suffering and despair.”

The desperate situation of Syria’s Palestine refugees is mirrored in Lebanon and Gaza. “Many told me that all they asked for was a life of dignity, that’s not much to ask for,” the Commissioner-General explained.

“We have seen increased poverty in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon…there has been a stiff increase compared to previous assessments, which means again, we are the only lifeline for this community. The same happened in Gaza; in Gaza, we have more than one million people who are also dependent on our food assistance.”

Highlighting the vast scope of UNRWA’s work, Mr. Lazzarini explained that the agency provided services, much as a small government would. “We act in reality as a Minister of Education, a Minister of Primary Health, a Minister of Municipalities, a Ministry of Social Services for this extraordinarily vulnerable group of Palestinian refugees,” he said.

“We are also providing emergency humanitarian assistance and hence my appeal this morning for a total of $1.6 billion.”

Amid chronic funding shortfalls, UNRWA has expanded e-health access and telemedicine and launched a digital learning platform. “In the last three years, we had a ‘zero growth’ budget, which stayed at the same level,” Mr. Lazzarini said. “Obviously, it didn’t meet all our needs, and that forced the agency to put in place austerity measures. And austerity comes at a cost; today, for instance, we regularly have up to 50 children per teacher attending class.”

Similarly tough conditions apply in health care provided by UNRWA, which provided seven million medical consultations in 2022. “On average, the doctor spent no more than three minutes with each patient, so it’s a bit quick, too,” the Commissioner-General said.

UNRWA’s 2023 appeal for $1.6 billion includes $848 million for core services including health, education, relief, social services and protection. Another $781.6 million is required for emergency operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

ends 

 

STORY: UNRWA Funding Appeal 2023

TRT: 2’35

SOURCE: UNTV CH
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SOUND: NATS/ENG/FR

RELEASED: 24 January 2023

SHOTLIST

 

  1. Exterior wide, UN flag alley, UN Geneva.
  2. Wide, speakers, seated, in front of UN backdrop.
  3. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): “We act in reality as a Minister of Education, a Minister of Primary Health, a Minister of Municipalities, a Ministry of Social Services for this extraordinarily vulnerable group of Palestinian refugees.”
  4. Close: TV camera viewfinder showing Mr. Lazzarini, who is also to rear of shot.
  5. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): “We are also providing emergency humanitarian assistance and hence my appeal this morning for a total of $1.6 billion.”
  6. Medium: journalists seated and taking photographs with mobile phones.
  7. SOUNDBITE (FRENCH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): « Pendant trois ans avant cette année, on a eu un budget ‘zero growth’, qui est resté au même niveau. Evidemment, ça ne couvre pas tous les besoins et ça a force l’agence de mettre en place des mesures d’austerité. Et l’austerité arrive à un coût très élevé, parce que aujourd’hui, par exemple, on a régulièrement jusqu’à 50 enfants pour un enseignant par classe. »
  8. Close, participants following press conference.
  9. SOUNDBITE (FRENCH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): « Si on regard au niveau des consultations médicales aujourd’hui, en moyenne on aura donné sept millions de consultations médicales en 2022 ; en moyenne un docteur ne passe pas plus de trois minutes avec un patient. Donc évidemment c’est un peu rapide là aussi. »
  10. Close, journalists watching proceedings.
  11. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): “We have seen increased poverty in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, which is more than 90 per cent, there has been a stiff increase compared to previous assessments, which means again, we are the only lifeline for this community.”
  12. Medium, panel of speakers in foreground, participants to rear.
  13. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): “The same happened in Gaza, in Gaza, we have more than one million people who are also dependent on our food assistance.”
  14. Close, fountain pen making handwritten notes on pad.
  15. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner-General, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA): “I thought that they had reached rock bottom some time ago, but I discover each time that this misery people are confronted with is getting worse and worse.”
  16. Medium, photographer preparing to take photo.
  17. Wide, speakers seated at table in front of UN backdrop.
  18. Medium-wide, TV cameras in foreground with speakers to rear.

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