Contribution to UNRWA's Programme Budget 2017-2020

Project completed
a classroom with young female students
The 685 UNRWA schools provide education for almost half a million Palestinian refugee children. © Taghrid Mohammad/UNRWA © UNRWA Taghrid Mohammad

UNRWA is one of Switzerland’s key multilateral partners in the Middle East, due to its regional outreach and its important contributions towards stability and peace in the region. UNRWA overall delivers assistance and protection services to 5.3 million registered Palestine refugees. Under its Programme Budget, UNRWA ensures universal access to quality primary health care and to basic education to Palestine refugees. It also provides targeted relief and social services to needy poor refugees.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Humanitarian Assistance & DRR
Primary education
Primary health care
Protection, access & security
01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020
CHF  92’000’000
Area of responsibility

UNRWA was established in 1949 with a temporary mandate by UN General Assembly to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory, until a durable and just solution is found to their plight.

Switzerland's and the organisation's strategic priorities and their coherence

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

Results of the organisation's previous engagement
  • 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 700 schools. The education reform generated positive classroom changes.
  • 300’000 refugees supported by a social safety net (food and cash/e-vouchers). Emergency assistance reached 1.4 million conflict-affected refugees.
  • Efforts undertaken to diversify resource mobilization towards private sector and regional partners (mainly Gulf States).
  • Establishment of a Protection division in 2015 following the adoption of the Protection policy in 2012.
Results of Switzerland's engagement in previous phase
  • Switzerland facilitated, in its AdCom/SubCom role, the implementation of the reforms envisaged in the MTS. It helped increasing trust among members and it has improved the overall quality of SubCom meetings.
  • Switzerland’s financial support contributed to catalytic initiatives enabling internal reforms in programmes (health and education) and management (putting in place the Protection division, resource mobilization, communication and relations with staff).
Medium-term outcome of organisation's current engagement
  • 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; improve employability; improve camps’ environment.
  • Ensure service delivery matches protection needs and standards; 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 efficiency and its capacity to serve Palestine refugees.
  • Resource mobilization efforts attract the required additional resources.
Effect in Switzerland

The outcomes are for the period 2016-18[1] and will be pursued through Switzerland’s AdCom/SubCom role (facilitation and steering) and providing policy and financial support to specific initiatives.

  • Vulnerable individuals and communities benefit from UNRWA’s strengthened protection response.
  • UNRWA’s ability to carry out its mandate is safeguarded by securing adequate and predictable financial resources and by implementing measures to improve financial stability.
  • Support efficient and effective management by ensuring that reforms (i.e. resource mobilization, new budget process, internal communication) are adequately funded and supported by stakeholders.
Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Humanitarian aid
Project partners Contract partner
United Nations Organization (UNO)
  • Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    92’000’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    92’047’317 Budget of the organisation CHF    3’294’560’000
Switzerland's ranking in the DonorOrder

6th donor to the Programme Budget; 10th donor taking into account Programme Budget, Emergency Appeals and Projects together.


30 Members and Observers of the Advisory Commission, incl. host countries. The top five donors to the Programme Budget are USA, EC, UK, Sweden and Japan.

Coordination with other projects and actors

Switzerland actively seeks and facilitates coordination with donors and host countries. As Chair of the Advisory Commission (July 2016-June 2017) this role is even more prominent, together with the ability to exert systemic influence and to support UNRWA.

Project phases Phase 48 01.01.2023 - 31.12.2024   (Current phase)

Phase 46 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020   (Completed)

Phase 45 01.01.2016 - 31.01.2017   (Completed) Phase 44 01.01.2014 - 31.12.2015   (Completed)