May 29, 2012

Relief for Palestinian refugees

I welcome the Australian Government’s announcement that Australia will provide $90m in overseas aid to support additional teachers and doctors for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

There are 1.4 million Palestinians currently in recognised refugee camps and the total number of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank could exceed five million.

The funding will be provided over five years to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 to provide assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees.

Australia has provided over $119 million to UNRWA since 2000 to deliver education, health, housing and infrastructure services to Palestinian refugees.

Since 2007, Australian aid has:

  • helped more than 470,000 Palestinian refugees attend school in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, including more than 200,000 girls; and
  • supported 4200 health workers to provide basic and emergency care to Palestinian refugees.

This agreement means more Palestinian children will go to school, and more doctors will be supported to work in refugee camps and Palestinian communities.