Canada Announces Up to $50 Million Aid to Palestinians Through UNRWA

Two months after U.S. cut all aid to the UN agency that provides services to millions of Palestinians

Palestinian schoolchildren take part in a lesson at a school run by UNRWA in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem October 10, 2018
Reuters/Ammar Awad

Canadian Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced on Saturday that Canada will provide support of up to $50 million over two years for Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Canada will also provide up to $12.5 million for Right to Play International.

According to a press release from the Global Affairs of Canada, up to $40 million will contribute to meeting the basic education, health and livelihood needs of millions of Palestinian refugees, especially women and children. The funding will also contribute to stability in the region by providing basic services to people whose needs would otherwise be unmet.

Furthermore, up to $10 million of Canada’s support will provide emergency life-saving assistance to more than 460,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon, through UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the Syria regional crisis.

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“Canada’s new funding will contribute to improving the lives and protecting the human dignity of millions of Palestinian refugees. This support will help to send hundreds of thousands of children to school, train teachers and support over a hundred health clinics," said Bibeau. "This new funding to UNRWA is urgently needed, and it will bring some predictability to the agency as the needs on the ground are increasing.”

Palestinians walk in front a mural painted on a wall of the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City on October 2, 2018
Said Khatib/AFP

This announcement comes two months after the United States announced it will cut the entire U.S. aid budget to UNRWA. The U.S. was the largest donor to UNRWA, and last year transferred more than $360 million to the organization. The decision to cut funding was met with international criticism.

Since 2016, Canada has committed $110 million in support for UNRWA, which is mandated to provide services to millions of Palestinian refugees.

Canada’s two-year funding commitment will contribute to addressing UNRWA’s funding shortfall and improve the predictability of the agency’s revenues, allowing it to plan how to meet current and expected needs.

In Syria, 95 percent of Palestinian refugees are in need of sustained humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. In Lebanon, 95 percent of Palestinian refugees from Syria are food insecure.