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Palestinian refugees: Bonino meets Grandi and underscores Italian support for UNRWA and its programmes

Continuing support from Italy for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. That was the assurance made by Foreign Minister Emma Bonino at today’s meeting at the Farnesina with the UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, who is visiting Rome.

Topics discussed during the meeting included the Italian contribution to the work of UNRWA and the conditions of Palestinian refugees against the particularly difficult backdrop of the Syrian crisis. Mr. Grandi is the highest-ranking Italian official in the United Nations system. He has been head of UNRWA, which was set up by the UN General Assembly in 1949 to meet the basic needs of Palestinian refugees, since January 2010.

The Commissioner-General addressed the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Chamber of Deputies this morning [24 October 2013]. He then illustrated UNRWA’s work at a conference opened by the Speaker of the Chamber, Laura Boldrini, which also took place in Montecitorio, the Parliament building.

UNRWA received 8 million euros from Italy in 2013, commented Bonino

“UNRWA plays a vital role in improving the living conditions of 5 million Palestinian refugees through basic education services and free health care”, Commented Minister Bonino. She told Mr. Grandi that “Italy has always supported UNRWA’s mandate and its work, which our country views as a benchmark for our Development Cooperation initiatives in the region”.

Italy’s support for UNRWA is borne out by the figures. Our country has contributed over 105 million dollars to the Agency’s budget since 2000, a point underscored by Emma Bonino. She noted that for 2013 our contribution amounts to around 8 million euros, on a par with the major European countries and an increase on recent years.

Peace in the Middle East and the Syrian crisis the focus for discussion

Minister Bonino and Commissioner-General Grandi also had an in-depth exchange of views on the key issues currently affecting Palestinian refugees in the Middle East. Issues that range from the outlook for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to the continuing Syrian crisis, which involves thousands of Palestinians living in refugee camps.

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