© United Nations Photo
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 refugee population. It deals expressly with Palestinian refugees in the Middle East and continues to provide them with assistance whilst a political solution to their situation is being sought. UNRWA employs a total of 30,000 people in the region.
UNRWA has been one of Switzerland's strategic partners in the Middle East since the agency was founded in 1949. In addition to Switzerland's important contribution to the global fund financing UNRWA's educational, health and aid services to Palestinian refugees (CHF 15.8 million in 2014), it plays a leading role in the process to reform the agency. Switzerland is not only committed to improving the quality of UNRWA’s services and its internal management processes, but also to strengthening the agency's fragile financial stability and its capacity to attract resources. In addition to its overall contribution, Switzerland also funds one-off projects implemented by UNRWA (e.g. improved access to water in refugee camps in Lebanon).
The nomination of the Swiss former director of operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Pierre Krähenbühl, to the post of commissioner-general of UNRWA in 2013 has also reaffirmed Switzerland's commitment to the UN and strengthened its presence in the organisation's governing bodies.
Please find more information about the Swiss cooperation with UNRWA on SDC's factsheet or contact the SDC Programme Manager Jacqueline Birrer.