(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) BRUSSELS, Feb 27 (KUNA) -- The European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) are holding a Strategic Dialogue on the way forward for their partnership, the European Commission announced Tuesday. The Strategic Dialogue discusses the challenging budgetary situation of UNRWA, which has been exacerbated by the recent announcement by the US government to withhold a considerable part of its funding, it said in a statement.
The EU and UNRWA remain committed to protecting the rights of Palestine refugees and continue the delivery of essential services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, it stressed.
"We have accelerated our contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget in 2018 and are committing to maintaining the present level of support to 2020," said EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.
"The Agency is a crucial stabilizing factor in the Middle East. We stress the need, in parallel, for UNRWA to pursue deep reforms and to focus on the needs of the most vulnerable refugees," he noted.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl expressed gratitude that, "once again, UNRWA could count on the support of the EU to overcome the unprecedented challenges it faces." "I am very grateful for the support of the EU in mobilizing the international community around a concerted global response to the most severe financial crisis in our seventy year history and helping us build new funding alliances needed to ensure improved income diversity," he said.
Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. The overall contribution in 2017 amounted to 110 million euro (USD 135 million), including 102 million euro (USD 125 million) for the UNRWA program Budget. (end) nk.msa