Canada continues its support of Palestinian refugees

News release

December 21, 2020 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Providing humanitarian assistance and responding to the needs of Palestinian refugees is part of the path toward peace and prosperity in the Middle East. That is why Canada is committed to meeting the basic needs of the poorest and most vulnerable among this population.

The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, today announced Canada’s continued support of up to $90 million over 3 years for Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This support will help respond to the rising needs of vulnerable Palestinian refugees in UNRWA’s 5 areas of operation (the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan).

This commitment will contribute to meeting the basic education, health and livelihood needs of Palestinian refugees, especially women and children. It will also provide emergency life-saving assistance to an estimated 465,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon, through UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the Syria regional crisis. In addition, it will complement UNRWA’s response to the new and emerging needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada’s funding will also reinforce UNRWA’s ongoing efforts to uphold UN values and humanitarian principles, including neutrality, within the agency and its operations. These efforts are essential to the effective delivery of its work and to Canada’s continued support.

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


“The needs of Palestinian refugees are undeniable, especially during a global pandemic: they face high rates of poverty, food insecurity and unemployment. Canada’s continued support for UNRWA builds upon Canada’s long-standing commitment to Palestinians while also contributing to stability in the region.”

- Karina Gould, Minister of International Development

Quick facts

  • Canada’s renewed commitment builds on its previous support for Palestinian refugees from 2016 though 2019, as well as funding announced in April 2020 to support UNRWA’s response to COVID-19.

  • UNRWA is mandated to provide services to Palestinian refugees located in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.

  • Canada’s multi-year funding commitment will contribute to addressing UNRWA’s funding shortfall and improve the predictability of the agency’s revenues, allowing it to plan how to meet current and expected needs.

  • In Syria, 91% of Palestinian refugee households live in absolute poverty. In Lebanon, over 89% of Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria are in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance.

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Guillaume Dumas
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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