Swiss fund Palestinian refugee agency but with reservations

UNRWA aims to give Palestinian refugees access to education, healthcare and social services. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The Swiss government has decided to continue its support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). It has earmarked CHF20 million ($22 million) for its annual contribution to help humanitarian projects in the Middle East.

This content was published on November 18, 2020 minutes

However, the government limited the support to two years, instead of four years as before, to monitor management reforms by UNRWA.

“Switzerland supports the structural reform processes and management reforms initiated by UNRWA in 2019 to ensure its ability to fulfil its mandate and make efficient use of the funds it receives,” the government said on WednesdayExternal link.

The agency provides Palestinian refugees with access to education, healthcare and social services, but it has come in for criticism from donor nations in recent years.

In 2018 Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis described the agency as a hinderance to the peace process. Last year Switzerland temporarily suspended its payments, and the Swiss head of the agency, Pierre Krähenbühl, resigned over allegations of misconduct.

New chief

In March another Swiss national, Philippe Lazzarini, took over from Krähenbühl.

Founded in 1946, UNRWA aims to strengthen stability in the Middle East and alleviate the humanitarian situation, notably for young people.

It is one of the key beneficiaries of Swiss aid in the region, according to the Swiss foreign ministry.

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