Support to Strategic UNRWA Interventions

Project completed

SDC support to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East) will enable the Agency to further implement strategic interventions in support of the 2016-21 UNRWA Medium-Term-Strategy. These interventions will also strengthen the Swiss role in the Agency’s governing structure and support the leadership of Commissioner-General’s Executive Office. The strategic interventions will build on SDC’s comparative advantages and expertise.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Palestinian Authority
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Education facilities and training
Primary education
Primary health care
Material relief assistance
01.03.2016 - 28.02.2018
CHF 3'101'410

Palestine refugees continue to face a human development and protection crisis and the volatile situation in all of the countries hosting them is increasing their vulnerably.

UNRWA is in a chronic financial deficit. The deficit represents a serious risk to UNRWA as an institution and the environment in which it operates (further destabilization of a very fragile context). UNRWA has embarked on a process to achieve financial stability, while promoting progress in service delivery. This entails a number of measures to be felt by the refugees and the communities in which they live - and therefore has to be carefully managed by UNRWA.


Switzerland’s enhanced influence through strategic interventions strengthens UNRWA’s performance

Target groups

UNRWA itself as an institution, its 5 Mio beneficiaries and 30,000 employees

Medium-term outcomes
  • The implementation of the 2016-21 Medium Term Strategy is effectively supported;
  • Initiatives aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and leadership of the Executive Office are adequately supported;
  • Swiss influence and qualified performance in UNRWA’s governance is strengthened

Expected results:  

The project is to be seen as a mechanism to provide in a flexible and timely manner support to strategic actions that the UNRWA senior management team, in particular the Executive Office will submit to SDC for approval. The themes that will be supported through this mechanism will be linked to financial stability, staff relations, transparent communication with Palestine refugees and enhanced strategic relations with key stakeholders.

Results from previous phases:  

  • The protection approach was strengthened and restructured. Protection of Palestine refugees was introduced as the first outcome of the medium term strategy and an independent Protection Unit established. Coordination among Fields and HQ on protection related issues has been enhanced.
  • Evaluation of the Resource Mobilization Strategy 2012-15 has been completed. Key findings were used in the development phase of the resource mobilization strategy 2016-18.
  • Relations between staff and the Commissioner-General improved. Key topics were regularly discussed in consultative group meetings and key recommendations agreed.
  • Communication was brought into focus. The UNRWA Arabic website was revamped; staff interacts with the Commissioner-General and the Field Directors through a dedicated platform; a communication work-plan was developed to accompany the implementation of the measures envisaged under the medium term strategy to achieve financial stability.
  • Swiss influence in UNRWA’s governance was strengthened. The strategic nature of the initiatives has strengthened the Swiss role in UNRWA governing structure as well as the dialogue with UNRWA senior management. Switzerland’s involvement in key discussions has broadened and strengthened its network of contacts and effectively prepared Switzerland for its upcoming role as Chair of the AdCom.

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

Other partners

The 30 members and observers of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission (donors and host countries).

Coordination with other projects and actors

The intervention is complementary to the General Fund contribution from the Humanitarian credit-line and the long-term contribution to the reforms from the Regional Cooperation credit line. Switzerland seeks and facilitates coordination with like-minded donors and host countries.

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF   3'101'410 Swiss disbursement to date CHF   3'101'410 Total project since first phase Swiss budget CHF  2'885'000 Budget inclusive project partner CHF  5'885'000
Project phases

Phase 2 01.03.2016 - 28.02.2018   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.06.2014 - 29.02.2016   (Completed)