Middle East

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Saudi Arabia reinforces commitment to Palestinian refugees with UNRWA donation 25 times more than pledged

AMMAN: For decades, Saudi Arabia has been one of the largest donors to Palestinian refugees, supporting camps in the occupied territories and throughout the Middle East, and increasing funding for relief agencies operating in the region.

Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, millions of Palestinians remain dependent on aid provided by the United Nations Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. .

This week, UNRWA acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s contribution of $27 million to support programs in the region, adding the Kingdom’s total contribution to this year’s $50 million pledge.

Over the past two decades, the Kingdom has donated over $1 billion to institutions, making it one of the largest donors. Her latest donation will help her over two million Palestinians in need of humanitarian assistance.

Founded in 1949, UNRWA’s original mission was to provide assistance and protection to the Palestinian refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

But it now includes the provision of emergency services to those affected by the 1967 occupation, including millions of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

UNRWA says $1.6 billion is needed to fully fund essential services for millions of Palestinians in the Middle East. (attached)

Saudi Arabia has also actively contributed to 108 aid projects in a range of areas, from food security and camp coordination to education and health, and through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, has donated more than 5 billion dollars over the past two decades. donate more than a dollar.

“Saudi Arabia is a major supporter of the Palestinian people in Palestinian territories and territories. The Saudi ambassador told Arab News.

“They see the kingdom as a nation that keeps its promises and leads humanitarian efforts.

Saudi Arabia’s pledged annual contribution to UNRWA is $2 million, and it has contributed 25 times that amount this year alone. Al-Sudairy said this shows the Kingdom’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people.

UNRWA was hit hard financially in 2018 when the US government suspended funding. This he just recovered in 2021.

“The financial difficulties we face today began almost a decade ago,” UNRWA Director Philip Lazarini told Arab News.

“That was when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began to be deprioritized, when new emerging political dynamics[appeared]when the attention of this part of the world began to decline, and when UNRWA became the collateral of this environment. happened.

“We continued to provide millions of Palestinian refugees with services, education, primary health care and social protection as expected according to the mandate given to the authorities.”

But with many new challenges, including rising prices, “resources are stubbornly stagnant,” he added.

Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi said the kingdom is a longtime supporter of the Palestinian people. (AN Photo/Abdurrahman Shalhoub)

Since June 1967, an elaborate system of laws and regulations has affected every aspect of Palestinian life in the occupied territories, from the fragmentation of the economy to the destruction of homes, agriculture and cultural life.

The number of Palestinians living below the poverty line has risen sharply, reaching 53% in Gaza, according to the World Bank, partly due to the loss of foreign aid assistance and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the May 2022 Economic Surveillance Report, 72% of households in the West Bank and 57% of households in Gaza saw their income drop during the pandemic. Meanwhile, food insecurity increased from 9% to 23% in the West Bank and from 50% to 53% in Gaza.

“The deteriorating economic and political situation has led to a deep fiscal crisis characterized by a sharp decline in donor aid, large funding gaps, a buildup of potentially precarious domestic debt, and arrears to the private sector and pension funds. ,” said the UN conference. Trade and development are mentioned in the August report.

UNRWA says $1.6 billion is needed to fully fund essential services for millions of Palestinians in the Middle East. Of this, $806 million will be needed to support education, health, relief, social services and protection, and $406 million for emergency assistance in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia has donated over $5 billion over the past two decades through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center. (spa)

An additional $365 million is needed for emergency humanitarian responses in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Palestinian refugees are facing multiple crises, including the prolonged Syrian conflict, COVID-19, and the political and economic crises facing Lebanon.

Lazzarini said the unpredictability of donations has been a major stumbling block as it has not received consistent attention from the international community.

“All this is being done at a time when there is little political horizon,” said Lazzarini. “I am convinced that with the right political interest and the right political will, the funding shortfall can be easily overcome.

“Sometimes we get less money for political reasons. It affects us in this region.”

The Kingdom’s donation will contribute to UNRWA’s global mobilization to address this year’s unprecedented shortage.

With the support of other partners in Saudi Arabia, agencies were able to open 711 schools on time for 530,000 children in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Meanwhile, 140 medical centers remain open, providing critical primary care to 3 million patients.

“I believe the Kingdom’s stance on Palestinian humanitarian causes runs parallel to its political stance,” said Jordan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia al-Sudayri.

UNRWA’s original mission was to provide support and protection to Palestinian refugees while they awaited a just and lasting solution to their plight.

“Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world to have proposed two peace initiatives under UN resolution 242, the first in Fez by King Fahd and the second in Beirut by then-Crown Prince Abdullah. is.”

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly last month, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah confirmed that the kingdom considers the Palestinian cause a priority and will continue to do so. did.

Aid to Palestine has been one of the main foreign policies since the Kingdom’s founding, he added.

“Middle East security and stability require a just and global solution to the Palestinian problem,” Prince Faisal told UN agencies.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/2187336/saudi-arabia International stars unite to entertain fans at Comic-Con Arabia in Jeddah

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