Brussels, 4 Rabiul Awwal 1434/ 16 January 2013 (MINA) – The European Union (EU) Tuesday announced its decision to bring forward the first part of its 2013 financial assistance package for the Palestinian people to the beginning of the year.

      The move is aimed to ensure that the support to the Palestinian and United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) is not interrupted, noted an EU statement, according to Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Wednesday.

      Firstly, EUR 60 million will be allocated to support the Palestinian National Development Plan by helping the Palestinian to finance its budget deficit and implement its reform agenda.

      This amount will contribute to the Palestinian’s payments of salaries and pensions for the first three months of 2013.

      Secondly, an initial amount of EUR 40 million will be given to UNWRA’s 2013 regular budget in order to support the education, health, relief and social services programmes which UNWRA is responsible for providing for Palestine refugees in West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

     “The European Union is again doing its utmost to underpin the ability of the Palestinian and UNRWA to deliver essential services to the Palestinian people without interruption,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in a statement.

     On his part, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Stefan Fule, said “the Palestinian Authority has particular problems in obtaining donor funds early in the year. The EU is aware of this and, as a reliable donor, has taken steps to alleviate the problem”.

      United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is a relief and human development agency, originally intended to provide jobs on public works projects and direct relief for 652,000 Arabs who fled or were expelled from Israel during the fighting that followed the end of the British mandate over Palestine.

      Today it provides education, health care, social services and emergency aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees from the 1948 and 1967 wars and their descendents.

      The agency provides aid to the refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as those in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

      It is the only agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict. It is separate from UNHCR  (1950), the UN Refugee Agency, which is the only other UN agency aiding refugees, dedicated to aiding all refugees in the world. (T/R-019/R-006)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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