Long-term support to UNRWA’s reform

Project completed

Switzerland contributes to enable UNRWA to pursue key reform areas of its Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2022, mainly by supporting (i) management initiatives and set of actions to ensure that governance, accountability, management and transparency meet international standards, and (ii) the systematic integration and attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular children, persons with disabilities and women survivors of violence.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Public finance management
Protection, access & security
Sexual & gender-based violence
01.07.2021 - 30.06.2023
CHF  3’000’000

UNRWA is mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide assistance and protection through the delivery of relief, human development and protection services to Palestine refugees in its five fields of operations (Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and West Bank- including East Jerusalem). Palestine refugees in these countries face complex human development and protection crisis, with poverty levels increasing and exacerbated by Covid-19, and protection threats rising, also due to protracted military occupation in the oPt and the conflict in Syria.

Despite the challenging environments, UNRWA has made significant progress over the years in terms of quality and cost-efficiency of its services, as a result of internal reforms. Following allegations of mismanagment in 2019, UNRWA has engaged in an ambitious plan to implement a series of reforms to improve management, oversight, transparency, and accountability.

Support for UNRWA’s reforms and transparency gains, stabilizing its financial situation and stengthening its protection interventions is essential to sustain the human development of Palestine refugees. This phase will be the final one under the current Entry Proposal and aims to consolidate gains of the current MTS 2016-2022.

Objectives To support UNRWA’s long-term reform process thus enabling the Agency to provide high quality services to Palestine refugees in an efficient, accountable, and transparent matter.
Target groups

-    Management Initiatives: About 27’000 UNRWA employees (91% refugees) and all UNRWA beneficiaries;

-    Resource Mobilization Strategy: 3.2 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank (incl. East Jerusalem) and Gaza;

-    Protection: the most vulnerable Palestine refugees, including neglected children, survivors of gender-based violence and refugees with disabilities.

Medium-term outcomes

-    UNRWA will increase transparency and accountability, oversight and improve management practices in line with international standards and the vision of a modernized and fit for purpose Agency;

-    Resource Mobilization Strategy gains are capitalized and further achievements are made in the diversification of public and private donors’ base, including through new digital fundrasing opportunities;

-    UNRWA 2021 Protection framework and new organizational chart are operationalized and lead to a better protection and promotion of Palestine refugees’ rights under international law.


Expected results:  

-    Support the establishment of UNRWA Ombudsperson Office, improve internal dispute settlement and processes, implementation of a procurement review, enhancement of internal oversight capacities, evaluation of UNRWA Mid-Term Strategy 2016-2022; 

-    Consolidation of Resource Mobilization Strategy and diversification of donors’ base, including private sector and digital fundraising; 

-    Set up and operationalize UNRWA 2021 Protection Framework and a new organizational chart.

Results from previous phases:  

-    Phase 1: Enterprise Resource Planning System strengthened UNRWA decision-making with a state-of-the-art platform that integrates finance, procurement and human resources;

-    Phase 1 & 2: Resource Mobilization Strategy (RMS) enabled UNRWA to bridge the Programme Budget deficits by increasing contributions from traditional donors and the private sector; engaging Arab countries and securing contributions from new donors;

-    Phase 2: Through e-health, electronic files replaced paper records, generating improvements in quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness;

-    Phase 3: Protection was established as Strategic Objective 1 in the Medium Term Strategy 2016-2022 and key policies and guidelines were developed;

-    Phase 4: External Relation department managed the “Dignity is Priceless” campaign that bridged UNRWA’s unprecedented budget shortfall in 2018; Protection & Neutrality functions were consolidated in each field and Protection policies and guidelines were operationalised.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Other partners
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East UNRWA
Coordination with other projects and actors

-    UNRWA PB 21-22

-    SDC coordinates UNRWA reforms with other like-minded donors

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    3’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’000’000
Project phases

Phase 5 01.07.2021 - 30.06.2023   (Completed)

Phase 4 01.01.2018 - 30.06.2021   (Completed) Phase 3 01.01.2016 - 31.12.2017   (Completed) Phase 2 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2015   (Completed) Phase 1 01.12.2013 - 31.12.2014   (Completed)