To ask His Majesty's Government what plans they have to help prevent the potential suspension from September of all United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) services to registered Palestinian refugees, because of financial pressures on its budget; and what is their assessment of the capacity of other United Nations agencies to sustain essential services.
24 July 2023
The UK is a longstanding supporter of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) voting to renew the agency's mandate until June 2026, providing essential humanitarian support to Palestinian refugees across its five zones of operation. Our annual contribution to their programme budget helps UNRWA provide education to over 533,000 children a year (half of them girls), and access to health services for 3.5 million Palestinian refugees. Given the impact of the global pandemic on the economy and public finances, the UK moved to a target of spending 0.5 per cent of GNI on Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2021. This was a difficult - but temporary - decision and the then Chancellor indicated during his budget speech on 27th October 2021 that the UK is currently on track to return to 0.7 per cent of GNI spend on ODA by financial year 2024/25. We are aware of UNRWA's immediate financial challenges and have pledged £10 million to UNRWA for this financial year. I, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon as The Minister of State for the Middle East, frequently raise UNRWA's financial situation with Middle East and North Africa regional partners at ministerial level, and the Minister of State for Development and Africa has also raised this with with Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of KSRelief at the Riyadh humanitarian forum in February. To that end, the UK government is working with UNRWA and other international donors to help ensure its continued financial viability.