UNRWA General Fund 2014 - 2015

Projekt abgeschlossen

UNRWA is an agency for security and human development. It is active in providing education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to almost 5 million Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. Switzerland supports the organisation with CHF 20 million per year.

Land/Region Thema Periode Budget
Palästinensische Behörde
Konflikt & Fragilität
Humanitäre Hilfe & DRR
Conflict prevention and transformation
Zwangsvertreibung (Flüchtlinge, Binnenvertriebene, Menschenhandel)
Primäre Gesundheitsversorgung
Nicht spezifizierter Sektor
Materielle Nothilfe
01.01.2014 - 31.12.2015
CHF 41'700'000

UNRWA’s temporary mandate from the General Assembly is to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, until a durable and just solution is found.

Strategische Schwerpunkte der Schweiz und der Organisation und deren Kohärenz

UNRWA’s mandate is in line with: Message on International Cooperation; Swiss foreign policy priorities; Strategic Framework Near East; Cooperation Strategies for oPt and Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.

Resultate des Engagement der Organisation der vorangehenden Phase
  • Medical services provided to 3.6 Mio refugees per year. The health reform improved quality of care, efficiency and cost effectiveness.
  • 500,000 students attended 685 schools. The education reform generated positive classroom changes.
  • 300’000 refugees supported by a social safety-net (food aid and cash). In addition, emergency assistance was quickly expanded in response to the conflicts, reaching 1.4 Mio persons.
  • Planning and decision-making greatly improved with the finalization of the Medium-Term-Strategy 2016-21 (MTS) and the launch of the Enterprise Resource Planning System (ERP).
  • Resource mobilization has been particularly successful in the fundraising with Arab countries (their 2015 contribution to the General Fund increased to 7.5%) and the private sector (each dollar invested generated a return of 17 dollars).
Resultate des Schweizer Engagement der vorangehenden Phase
  • Switzerland exerted strong leadership in UNRWA’s Advisory Commission (AdCom): Between 2014-2015, Switzerland headed the AdCom’s Sub-Committee, and, since July 2015, assumes the vice-chairmanship of the AdCom. Switzerland provided policy support, platforms for stakeholders’ dialogue and facilitation work - which were instrumental in supporting the reform process and the finalization of the MTS.
  • Switzerland financial support has contributed to catalyst initiatives enabling various programme (health and education) and management (resource mobilization, ERP) reforms - which have led to unmistakable improvements.
Mittelfristige Wirkung des gegenwärtigen Engagements der Organisation
  • Ensure universal access to quality and comprehensive primary health care; prevent and control diseases.
  • Ensure universal access to basic education; enhance quality; improve access for learners with special needs.
  • Reduce abject poverty; offer inclusive financial services; improve employability; improve camps’ environment.
  • Ensure service delivery matches protection needs; advance rights of refugees by promoting respect for human rights and IHL; ensure registration is carried out in accordance with international standards.
  • Management reforms are systematized to strengthen UNRWA’s capacity to serve Palestine refugees.
  • Resource mobilization efforts attract the required additional resources.
Mittelfristige Wirkung des gegenwärtigen Engagements der Schweiz
  • Strengthen the protection approach and the field interventions and increase stakeholders’ understanding of the approach.
  • Enhance Palestine refugees’ livelihood opportunities by increasing the financial services available to them and improve their employability.
  • Support efficient and effective management by ensuring that upcoming reforms (i.e. resource mobilization, new budget process, internal communication) are adequately funded and supported by stakeholders.
Verantwortliche Direktion/Bundesamt DEZA
Kreditbereich Humanitäre Hilfe
Projektpartner Vertragspartner
Organisation der Vereinten Nationen (UNO)
  • Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Budget Laufende Phase Schweizer Beitrag CHF   41'700'000 Bereits ausgegebenes Schweizer Budget CHF   41'700'000
Platz der Schweiz auf der Rangliste der Grösse der Geberbeiträge

Currently 6th donor to the General Fund - 11th donor for overall contribution to UNRWA (including emergency appeals, strategic projects).


The top five donors are the European Commission, USA, UK, Sweden, and Norway. The 25 main donors are part of the Advisory Commission, together with host states.

Koordination mit anderen Projekten und Akteuren

Switzerland seeks and facilitates coordination, particularly with like-minded donors and host countries.

Projektphasen Phase 46 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Laufende Phase) Phase 45 01.01.2016 - 31.01.2017   (Completed)

Phase 44 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2015   (Completed)

Portrait of the organisation

The United Nations General Assembly created UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) in 1949 in order to provide humanitarian aid to the refugee population. It deals expressly with Palestinian refugees in the Middle East and continues to provide them with assistance whilst a political solution to their situation is being sought. UNRWA employs a total of 30,000 people in the region.



The 685 UNRWA schools provide education for almost half a million refugee children. More than half of the agency's budget is allocated for education.


UNRWA has 137 medical centres in the region, offering quality medical services free of charge for the refugee population. More than three million refugees benefit from these services.

Social services

Around 1.2 million Palestine refugees live in abject poverty. UNRWA provides almost 300,000 of them with social assistance.


A third of Palestine refugees live in the 58 camps spread throughout the region. UNRWA helps to rebuild and improve their infrastructure.


UNRWA provides thousands of Palestine refugees the opportunity for sustainable income generation by granting loans through its microfinance service.

Emergency response

In view of the instability in the region, UNRWA is regularly called upon to respond to humanitarian emergencies. It provides humanitarian assistance to thousands of Palestinine refugees affected by the Syrian crisis and the fragile situation in Gaza.


Three million Palestine refugees benefit from UNRWA's health services every year, and 300,000 people receive assistance in the form of food or cash. UNRWA schools provide more than 500,000 children with an education.

Despite the armed conflict in Syria, UNRWA has maintained its activities in the region and provides support tailored to the needs of the Palestine refugees in Syria as well as the neighbouring countries. Since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011, UNRWA has managed to deliver humanitarian aid to more than 460,000 Palestine refugees.

Switzerland's commitment

Priorities of Switzerland

UNRWA has been one of Switzerland's strategic partners in the Middle East since the agency was founded in 1949. In addition to Switzerland's important contribution to the global fund financing UNRWA's educational, health and aid services to Palestine refugees (CHF 22.9 million in 2015), it plays a leading role in the process to reform the agency. Switzerland is not only committed to improving the quality of UNRWA’s services and its internal management processes, but also to strengthening the agency's fragile financial stability and its capacity to attract resources. In addition to its overall contribution, Switzerland also funds one-off projects implemented by UNRWA (e.g. improved access to water in refugee camps in Lebanon).

The nomination of the Swiss Philippe Lazzarini to the post of commissioner-general of UNRWA in 2020 has also reaffirmed Switzerland's commitment to the UN.


Thanks to its strategy to mobilise resources which was financed and supported by Switzerland, UNRWA has received new funding from non-traditional donors in 2015. Thus while contributions from Arab countries account for 7.5% of the general fund in 2015, compared with 3% in 2014, the contribution from the private sector has grown 17-fold, totalling USD 22 million. 


The main challenges facing UNRWA are regional crises – particularly in Syria – and chronic underfunding. Both affect the agency's financial stability and endanger its capacity to offer quality services. Switzerland is therefore strongly committed to supporting UNRWA on these two levels, via the reform process and acquiring additional funds to respond to humanitarian needs.

International Cooperation: A profession

40 short films portray UN employees in Geneva. Beneath the films, the favored language of subtitles (de, fr, en, it) can be selected.