JERSULALEM, 1st December 2015 (WAM) — The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has launched its annual winter fundraising campaign titled #shareyourwarmth today to support the Agency’s winterization efforts for Palestine refugees in Syria, Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon and Jordan. The campaign, which runs from 1 December to the end of February 2016, aims to raise awareness of the dire humanitarian situation of vulnerable Palestine refugees during the winter season – particularly the families who have lost their homes or have been displaced due to conflict – and to raise US$ 2 million to help them endure the coming months.

“Palestine refugees face great uncertainty, with many of them lacking adequate shelter and struggling to meet their minimum food needs. These realities will only become more unbearable as they brace themselves for the harsh winter conditions,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl. “Palestine refugees demonstrate remarkable courage and generosity in the face of such adversities, such as the family in Gaza who opens their door to those lacking shelter or the humanitarian worker who faces great personal risks to deliver life-saving services in Syria. But they cannot do this alone. Today, we call upon the international community to demonstrate their solidarity with Palestine refugees and support this year’s #shareyourwarmth campaign to help ensure that no one is left out in the cold.”

The campaign features a short video which shows two families – one surrounded by conflict and the other in the warmth of their home – come together to exchange gifts, emphasizing the culture of sharing present in Palestine refugee communities. The video can be viewed here.

Donations to the campaign, which can be made at www.unrwa.org/donate, will directly support the Agency’s winterization efforts, including shelter repairs and the provision of food and cash assistance to vulnerable Palestine refugee families. UNRWA also invites supporters and partners to join the campaign by promoting #shareyourwarmth on their social media networks and websites.

UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, deepening poverty and conflict. As a result, the UNRWA General Fund, which supports core essential services and most staffing costs, operates with a large deficit. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large deficits, are funded through separate funding portals.

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

WAM/MMYS