Australia to support UN relief works for Palestinian refugees

Media release

28 May 2012

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Bob Carr today announced Australia would support additional teachers and doctors for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, with a $90 million funding agreement to be signed with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Canberra this afternoon.

The agreement would provide the $90m in overseas aid to be distributed by UNRWA over five years, supporting education and medical care for Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The agreement would be signed by Senator Carr and UNRWA Commissioner General Mr Filippo Grandi in Canberra today.

"More than 1.4 million Palestinians live in recognised refugee camps in the Middle East, including those fleeing ongoing violence in Syria," Senator Carr said.

"The total number of Palestinian refugees in the region could exceed five million.

"Today's funding agreement means more Palestinian children will go to school, and more doctors will be supported to work in refugee camps and Palestinian communities.

"That's good news on humanitarian grounds, and good news for Middle Eastern regional stability."

Senator Carr said while Australia's first priority was always its own citizens, there was room for wealthy countries to also do their part in fighting poverty overseas.

Since 2007, Australian aid has:

UNRWA is a United Nations agency 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.

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