Miriam Ketter (Forweet) provides €4.5 million to UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees in the Middle East. This was announced by the Minister of Development Cooperation during a visit to the refugee camp in Baqa’a (Jordan).
Ketter is currently conducting her first major foreign mission in Jordan and Lebanon. This morning I stopped at the spot. Ketir visited, among other things, a girls’ school and a health center.
At the conclusion of that visit, the Minister announced additional resources for UNRWA, in addition to €7 million in structural support from Belgium. Concretely, this relates to 3.5 million euros for education projects and 1 million euros for urgent financial assistance to refugees living below the poverty line. There are approximately 5,000 Palestinians in Baqa’a.
‘Not safe at all’
After her visit, Ketter emphasized that the United Nations needs more resources, but also more predictable funding. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philip Lazzarini agreed. “We never know at the end of the month if we will be able to fund our projects and if we will be able to pay our 28,000 employees. This makes it very unsafe for the refugees, our employees and the host countries.”
UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) was established in 1949 in response to the massive influx of Palestinian refugees that began after the formation of the State of Israel. The organization provides shelter, education, health and social protection to 5.7 million Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank. That is why it depends almost entirely on donations and foreign aid.
The agency’s credibility was lost a few years ago after an investigation into abuse of power. Belgium and several other partner countries then temporarily suspended funding. After a thorough review and appointment of a new Commissioner-General, Belgium resumed its support at the end of 2019.
129,000 refugees over an area of 1.4 square kilometers
Baqa’a camp is located about 20 kilometers north of the Jordanian capital, Amman. With 129,000 Palestinian refugees registered in an area of 1.4 square kilometres, it is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan. The country hosts nearly 2.3 million Palestinian refugees. Moreover, more than 650,000 registered refugees from Syria have been added in the past 10 years. There are also 300,000 refugees from Iraq living in Jordan.
Tomorrow Cutter will head to the Zaatari camp of nearly 80,000 Syrian refugees near Mafraq (a town in northwest Jordan on the border with Syria; ed.). From there he goes to Lebanon.
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