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Tánaiste announces funding to help vulnerable Palestinian refugees in Syria

The Government is to provide €200,000 in emergency funding to help some of the half a million Palestinian refugees living in Syria whose lives have been increasingly affected by the devastating fighting in the country. 

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, said the funds would support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to provide health, education and social services to Palestinian refugees. 

Speaking after a meeting in Dublin today with the Commissioner General of UNRWA, Mr. Filippo Grandi, the Tánaiste said he was increasingly concerned at the impact of the crisis in Syria on innocent civilians.

“The humanitarian situation in Syria and across the wider region continues to deteriorate.  Some 2.5 million people have been affected, with 1.2 million displaced within Syria and almost 350,000 forced to cross the border to neighbouring countries.  The poor, the elderly and vulnerable groups such as the Palestinian refugee population in Syria are among those at greatest risk”. 

Announcing the funding, the Tánaiste said:

“Ireland has been a longstanding supporter of the work of UNRWA.  During my visit to Gaza earlier this year, I witnessed the impact of the agency’s tireless work to meet the basic needs of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.  I am confident that the support I am announcing today will help UNRWA to save lives and maintain the dignity of a population at increasing risk due to the brutal conflict in Syria.”

Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello added: “This funding underlines Ireland’s commitment to responding to the urgent humanitarian needs in Syria and in neighbouring countries.  It brings the total value of the Irish Government’s response to the crisis in Syria this year to almost €2.5 million.

“Since my visit to Jordan in August, I have been monitoring the plight of refugees very closely. The increasing number of refugees and the onset of winter make the situation ever more urgent. Our funding will support UNRWA to address the needs of the Palestinian refugees, who are among the most vulnerable.”

  • For further information or to request an interview, please contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 087-9099975 or the Department’s press office on 087 7788835

Notes to the editor

Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Directorate of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

  • In March 2012, Minister Costello authorised €500,000 in emergency funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UNHCR and the World Food Programme.
  • Following his visit to Jordan in August, Minister Costello announced a further €1.6 million in humanitarian funding to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Health Organisation and the International Rescue Committee for their response to the crisis.  
  • Last month saw the dispatch by Irish Aid of an additional 300 tents for use by UNHCR at camps in Jordan.  The tents and specialist shelter equipment were valued at €155,000.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has provided health, education and social services to Palestinian refugees across the region since 1948.   In Syria, the agency is mandated to provide health, education and social and relief services to more than 486,000 Palestinian refugees living in nine official and three unofficial camps. 
  • Even before the current crisis, many of the refugees lagged behind the Syrian host population in key areas, such as a higher infant mortality rate and lower school enrolment figures. Palestinian refugees in Syria, like all Palestinian refugees, remain a vulnerable population and live in uncertainty with regard to their long-term future.  The current violence in Syria means that they are at greater risk than ever before.