UNRWA General Fund 2014 - 2015

Project completed

UNRWA is an agency for security and human development. It is active in providing education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to almost 5 million Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Switzerland supports the organisation with CHF 20 million per year.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Jordan
Lebanon
Palestinian Authority
Syria
Education
Migration
Health
Other
Conflict & fragility
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Conflict prevention and transformation
Primary education
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
Primary health care
Sector not specified
Conflict prevention
Material relief assistance
01.01.2014 - 31.12.2015
CHF 41'700'000
Area of responsibility

UNRWA’s temporary mandate from the General Assembly is to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, until a durable and just solution is found.

Switzerland's and the organisation's strategic priorities and their coherence

UNRWA’s mandate is in line with: Message on International Cooperation; Swiss foreign policy priorities; Strategic Framework Near East; Cooperation Strategies for oPt and Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Results of the organisation's previous engagement
  • Medical services provided to 3.6 Mio refugees per year. The health reform improved quality of care, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
  • 500,000 students attended 685 schools. The education reform generated positive classroom changes.
  • 300’000 refugees supported by a social safety-net (food aid and cash). In addition, emergency assistance was quickly expanded in response to the conflicts, reaching 1.4 Mio persons.
  • Planning and decision-making greatly improved with the finalization of the Medium-Term-Strategy 2016-21 (MTS) and the launch of the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP).
  • Resource mobilization has been particularly successful in the fundraising with Arab countries (their 2015 contribution to the General Fund increased to 7.5%) and the private sector (each dollar invested generated a return of 17 dollars).
Results of Switzerland's engagement in previous phase
  • Switzerland exerted strong leadership in UNRWA’s Advisory Commission (AdCom): Between 2014-2015, Switzerland headed the AdCom’s Sub-Committee, and, since July 2015, assumes the vice-chairmanship of the AdCom. Switzerland provided policy support, platforms for stakeholders’ dialogue and facilitation work - which were instrumental in supporting the reform process and the finalization of the MTS.
  • Switzerland financial support has contributed to catalyst initiatives enabling various programme (health and education) and management (resource mobilization, ERP) reforms - which have led to unmistakable improvements.
Medium-term outcome of organisation's current engagement
  • Ensure universal access to quality and comprehensive primary health care; prevent and control diseases.
  • Ensure universal access to basic education; enhance quality; improve access for learners with special needs.
  • Reduce abject poverty; offer inclusive financial services; improve employability; improve camps’ environment.
  • Ensure service delivery matches protection needs; advance rights of refugees by promoting respect for human rights and IHL; ensure registration is carried out in accordance with international standards.
  • Management reforms are systematized to strengthen UNRWA’s capacity to serve Palestine refugees.
  • Resource mobilization efforts attract the required additional resources.
Effect in Switzerland
  • Strengthen the protection approach and the field interventions and increase stakeholders’ understanding of the approach.
  • Enhance Palestine refugees’ livelihood opportunities by increasing the financial services available to them and improve their employability.
  • Support efficient and effective management by ensuring that upcoming reforms (i.e. resource mobilization, new budget process, internal communication) are adequately funded and supported by stakeholders.
Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East


Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   41'700'000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   41'700'000
Switzerland's ranking in the DonorOrder

Currently 6th donor to the General Fund - 11th donor for overall contribution to UNRWA (including emergency appeals, strategic projects).

Donors

The top five donors are the European Commission, USA, UK, Sweden, and Norway. The 25 main donors are part of the Advisory Commission, together with host states.

Coordination with other projects and actors

Switzerland seeks and facilitates coordination, particularly with like-minded donors and host countries.

Project phases Phase 46 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Current phase) Phase 45 01.01.2016 - 31.01.2017   (Completed)

Phase 44 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2015   (Completed)

Portrait of the organisation

The United Nations General Assembly created UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in 1949 in order to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestine refugee population. UNRWA's mission is to provide Palestine refugees in the Middle East with assistance until the Palestine issue is resolved. UNRWA employs nearly 28,000 people in the region, most of whom are Palestine refugees themselves.

Themes

Education
UNRWA runs 711 schools that provide education to more than half a million refugee children. Over half of the agency's programme budget is allocated to education.

Healthcare
UNRWA operates 143 medical centres in the region, offering high-quality medical services free of charge to the Palestine refugee population. In 2019, there were over 8.4 million patient visits to UNRWA's health centres. More than three million refugees access the agency's health services.

Social services
Around 1.2 million Palestine refugees live in abject poverty. UNRWA provides around 255,000 of them with social assistance.

Infrastructure
One third of Palestine refugees live in 58 camps spread throughout the region. UNRWA helps to rebuild and improve the camp infrastructure.

Microfinance
UNRWA's microfinance services provide sustainable income-generation opportunities to thousands of Palestine refugees.

Emergency response
UNRWA is regularly called upon to respond to humanitarian emergencies due to ongoing instability in the region. The crisis in Syria, the security situation in Gaza and the current COVID-19 pandemic have impacted the thousands of Palestine refugees who receive humanitarian aid from UNRWA.

Results
Every year, 3.6 million Palestine refugees access UNRWA's health services, and 255,000 people receive assistance in the form of food or cash. UNRWA's schools provide more than 530,000 children with an education.

Despite the armed conflict in Syria, UNRWA has maintained its activities in the region and provides support – adapted to the situation on the ground – to the Palestine refugee population in Syria and neighbouring countries. Since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011, UNRWA has delivered humanitarian aid to more than 460,000 people. UNRWA also continued providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic, adjusting its operations to offer distance learning and home delivery of food aid, to name just two examples.

Switzerland's engagement

Switzerland's priorities
UNRWA UNRWA has been one of Switzerland's strategic partners in the Middle East since the agency was founded in 1949. Switzerland makes considerable contributions to UNRWA's programme budget (CHF 20 million in 2019). Contributions to this budget are used to directly finance UNRWA's education, health and support services to Palestine refugees. Switzerland's top priorities for UNRWA are seeing that the agency implements the management reforms introduced in 2019, continues to provide education to refugees, and works together with host countries to create opportunities for young Palestinians.  In addition to its general budgetary contribution, Switzerland also funds one-off UNRWA projects such as improving access to water in refugee camps in Lebanon.

The appointment of Swiss national Philippe Lazzarini to the post of UNRWA commissioner-general in 2020 is a testament to Switzerland’s commitment to the United Nations.

Results
Switzerland has played a part in achieving the aforementioned outcomes thanks to its financial contributions to UNRWA's programme budget. Switzerland also financed and supported a resource mobilisation strategy for UNRWA that helped it acquire new funding from non-traditional donors, including from the private sector. Some of the management reforms introduced in late 2019 have already been implemented under the leadership of Commissioner-General Lazzarini. UNRWA strives to advance its reform agenda and is actively supported by Switzerland in this regard. 

Challenges

The main challenges facing UNRWA are regional crises – particularly in Syria – and the agency's ability to continue providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Another challenge facing UNRWA is chronic underfunding, which jeopardises the agency's financial stability and threatens its ability to provide high-quality services. This issue has been exacerbated by the United States' decision to end aid contributions to the agency in 2018. Switzerland is strongly committed to helping UNRWA respond to these challenges. To this end, Switzerland supports the agency's reform process and provides additional funds for humanitarian purposes.

International Cooperation: A profession

40 short films portray UN employees in Geneva. Beneath the films, the favored language of subtitles (de, fr, en, it) can be selected.