Amid COVID-19 India donates $2 million to UNRWA for Palestinian refugees; UN calls it commendable

New Delhi Written By: Sidhant SibalUpdated: May 18, 2020, 04:50 PM IST

India's representative to palestine Sunil Kumar hands over the funds.  Photograph:(WION)

Story highlights

India's contribution was handed over by India's representative to Palestine Sunil Kumar. 

India has donated $2 million to UNRWA for the welfare of Palestinian refugees. The UN body has called it ''commendable'' at the time of COVID crisis. UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and provides education, health care, relief and social services to Palestinian refugees. 

With about, 3.1 million Palestine refugees dependent on health services provided by UNRWA, India's contribution comes at the time of global COVID pandemic. 

The agency provides basic health services through a network of primary health care facilities and mobile clinics to the refugees. 

India's contribution was handed over by India's representative to Palestine Sunil Kumar. 

While handing over the cheque to Chief of Donor Relations of UNRWA Marc Lassouaoui, Kumar said, "On behalf of the Government of India, I would like to express my appreciation for the commendable work and endeavours carried out by UNRWA. We believe that our contribution will support the Agency's activities in providing the needed assistance to Palestinian refugees, and assist in achieving their full human development potential."

India has increased its annual financial contribution to UNRWA from the $1.25 million in 2016 to U$ 5 million in 2018 and 2019 and pledged another US$ 5 million for 2020. 

 Marc Lassouaoui, Chief of Donor Relations of UNRWA expressed the agency's "deep appreciation" to the Indian government for "advancing part of its contribution, which will help UNRWA address cash flow challenges" and called the "continued determination and commitment of India in support" of the Palestine refugees "commendable" in particular under the "current circumstances brought on us by Covid-19."

With this year's contribution to UNRWA, India open the way to become a member of the Agency's Advisory Commission. Advisory Commission was created by UN Resolution 302 (IV) on 8 December 1949 and is tasked with advising and assisting the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in carrying out the Agency’s mandate. Consisting of four members when it was first created, today the Advisory Commission (AdCom) is made up of 28 Members and 4 Observers.

India's contribution comes even as the agency faces a dire financial situation that can impact health and education for Palestinian refugees. Agency's schools educate 526,000 students every year, of which half are female.UNRWA has been the main provider of primary education to Palestine refugees for 60 years. In 2018, US had stopped aid to UNRWA.