10.09.2012 - Press release
Official Visit to Switzerland by UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi
UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi is on an official visit to Switzerland from 10 to 12 September 2012. On Monday he held talks in Berne with State Secretary Yves Rossier, Director-General of the SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Martin Dahinden, Federal Council Delegate for Humanitarian Aid Manuel Bessler and various members of parliament. Switzerland has decided to pledge an additional one million Swiss francs in support of Palestinian refugees affected by the conflict in Syria.
The official visit commenced on Monday 10 September 2012 with a meeting with members of parliament in Berne. Ambassador Manuel Bessler, Federal Council Delegate for Humanitarian Aid, emphasised UNRWA's important role as a partner for Switzerland. UNRWA represents Switzerland's longest-standing humanitarian engagement and, through its "parastatal" aid work and as an employer of some 30,000 Palestinian refugees, is an important stabilising factor in the region.
For his part, UNRWA Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi praised the important role played by Switzerland, not only as a cash donor but also as a partner for innovation and reform processes. He also singled out the positive support given by Switzerland in the political dialogue between UNRWA, host and donor countries. Grandi thanked Switzerland for its contribution in 2012 of CHF 11 million to the general UNRWA budget, and for the CHF 5.5 million which Switzerland uses to fund highly innovative projects. But he also pointed out that the UNRWA was underfunded, explaining that the available funds are not sufficient to guarantee aid to Palestinian refugees up to the end of the year.
The needs of Palestinian refugees who are severely affected by the crisis in Syria were also the subject of talks with representatives of SDC Management, which were attended by SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden, Federal Council Delegate for Humanitarian Aid Manuel Bessler, and Deputy Head of SDC Regional Cooperation Willi Graf. More than half the 510,000 Palestinian refugees living in Syria are directly affected by the conflict and are urgently in need of protection and humanitarian aid. Particularly vulnerable refugees will now receive assistance in the form of cash donations. The SDC has allocated an additional one million Swiss francs to support this emergency aid.
Grandi stressed to State Secretary Yves Rossier that it was important not to lose sight of the general situation of Palestinian refugees in neighbouring countries because of the Syrian crisis. For example, the situation in the Gaza strip is so serious that UNRWA has to provide food aid to almost a million people.
Additional Information and Documents
UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) is active in providing edu...