Backgrounder - Canada’s support for Palestinian refugees


Canada has announced funding of up to $50 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and up to $12.5 million over five years for Right to Play International.

In the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, UNRWA’s core programs provide basic education, health and social services and livelihoods opportunities, and help to protect the rights of Palestinian refugees, in line with the agency’s mandate.

In response to the Syria regional crisis, UNRWA focuses on preserving the resilience of vulnerable individuals by providing humanitarian assistance and a protective framework for Palestinian refugees through basic services, such as education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene or livelihood activities.

Providing basic education, health and social services to Palestinian refugees - up to $40 million over two years

This funding will help over 500,000 Palestinian girls and boys receive quality basic education. It will help to operate more than 140 primary health-care clinics and support outreach teams in delivering access to health-care services, medications and immunizations. It will also provide basic shelter and food for the poorest Palestinian refugees.

Through this funding, Canada is also continuing its support for UNRWA’s ongoing efforts to promote neutrality in its operations and among its staff, the majority of whom are also Palestinian refugees. Neutrality is a core obligation and value of UN staff, as well as part of UNRWA’s regulatory framework. The funding will contribute to UNRWA’s neutrality activities, including:

  • regular inspections of the agency’s facilities by specially trained UNRWA officers who can identify, report and take action on violations of neutrality;
  • training for UNRWA staff on neutrality, including in social media, and for senior staff on how to carry out effective installation inspections;
  • promotion of students’ knowledge and skills reflecting UN values, including human rights, conflict resolution, gender equality and tolerance, through educational activities and materials; and
  • UNRWA’s development, distribution and use of additional educational materials, part of the agency’s approach to enable teachers to promote neutrality.

This also builds on funding Canada provided from 2017 to 2019 to hire a neutrality coordinator to monitor activities and respond promptly to allegations of neutrality violations.

Emergency appeal for the Syria regional crisis - up to $10 million over two years

Canada’s support will provide humanitarian assistance to address the urgent needs of Palestinian refugees affected by the Syria regional crisis. Canadian assistance will provide food, cash and non-food items, as well as emergency health assistance, psychosocial and protection services, and high-quality and inclusive education for girls and boys. For Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Canadian assistance will also help to provide opportunities for sustainable livelihoods.

Partnership with Right to Play International to support Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza - up to $12.5 million over five years

The objectives of this partnership will be to support Right to Play International’s collaboration with UNRWA in the creation of safe, inclusive, gender-responsive classrooms, by training existing teachers to integrate child-centred play-based methodologies into their teaching practice.


Canada exercises enhanced due diligence for all humanitarian and development assistance funding for Palestinians. This includes ongoing oversight, regular site visits, a systematic screening process, and strong anti-terrorism provisions in funding agreements. 

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