Press release

UK support for Palestinians made refugees twice over by Syria crisis

Support from the UK will help Palestinian refugees both inside Syria and who have fled to neighbouring countries.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Palestinian refugees from Syria play in the Shatila refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon. Picture: Andrew McConnell/Panos
Palestinian refugees from Syria play in the Shatila refugee camp, Beirut, Lebanon. Picture: Andrew McConnell/Panos

The UK will provide £15.5 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to deliver lifesaving support to Palestinian refugees both inside Syria and those who have once again had to flee to neighbouring countries as a result of the conflict, International Development Minister Alan Duncan announced today.

This will include food for over 155,000 people and cash assistance so a similar number can pay for essential supplies including clothes, food and bills for themselves and their families.

Of more than half a million Palestinian refugees whose families have sought safety in Syria over previous decades, more than 50% have now been driven out of their homes by the fighting. This includes approximately 235,000 displaced inside Syria, as well as 47,000 who have moved into Lebanon and 9,000 into Jordan.

Alan Duncan said:

Having fled once to seek safety in Syria, tens of thousands of Palestinians now find that they must again leave behind everything they know as a result of conflict, abandoning the new lives that they have struggled to build.

Palestinians are increasingly caught in the middle of the fighting in Syria. Shelling and clashes are taking place around and even inside refugee camps and at least 44,000 refugees’ homes have been damaged or destroyed.

The double tragedy these refugees face must not become a forgotten footnote to this war. The support the UK has announced will help to save lives amongst some of the most vulnerable. At the same time, I hope it will send a clear message to Palestinian refugees caught up in the Syria crisis that the world has not forgotten their plight.

The announcement follows a meeting between Alan Duncan and UNWRA’s Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi during a visit to the UK. Filippo Grandi said:

UNRWA is grateful for DFID’s long-standing support to Palestine refugees and in particular for its most recent contribution of £15.5 million. This contribution is critical to the Agency’s ongoing response to the Syria Crisis.

Funds will provide emergency assistance to Palestine refugees who remain in Syria and those who have fled to neighbouring countries.

The UK has already provided £5 million to UNRWA for food parcels, blankets, and hygiene packs to help over 100,000 Palestinian refugees both inside Syria and across the region.

Notes to editors

  1. The UK has now committed £500 million in response to the humanitarian crisis in Syria, the largest ever response from the UK to a single crisis. This is providing support including food, medical care and relief items for over a million people in Syria and the region.
  2. In addition to the funding specifically for Palestinian refugees in Syria, the UK also provides substantial core support to UNRWA to deliver essential services including health, education, relief and protection to nearly five million registered Palestine refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza.
  3. DFID will provide £106.5 million to UNRWA’s general fund from 2012-2015 which will deliver: Education for over 36,000 refugees a year; at least four ante-natal care visits a year for over 6000 pregnant women and cash transfers to over 20,000 poor households a year. This is UNRWA’s preferred funding mechanism because it enables it to prioritise and plan.

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Published 21 October 2013