29 November 2012
|Courtesy of AFP
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Filippo Grandi, has concluded a visit to Baghdad, the first ever by a head of UNRWA. During the two-day visit, Grandi met with senior members of the Iraqi administration, including the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
The Baghdad trip follows Iraq's reemergence as an important donor to UNRWA in 2011 after two decades of absence, with a donation of USD 2 million in 2011 to UNRWA’s General Fund.
“I was pleased to have the chance to outline the many challenges facing UNRWA and to discuss the regional situation as it concerns Palestinian refugees. I am hopeful that Iraq will become in the future a key Arab partner of the Agency,” the Commissioner-General said following his meeting with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.
During the visit, the Commissioner-General discussed with senior Iraqi officials the impact of the crises in Gaza and Syria on Palestinian refugees as well as Iraq's support for UNRWA's regular operations.
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UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund, supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the budget deficit stands at USD 21 million.
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UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
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