ICAI: Room for improvement on DfID support to UNRWA

Alan Duncan, U.K. Minister of State for International Development visits Gaza in December 2012. The donor country's support to Palestinian refugees has room for improvement. Photo by: Shareef Sarhan / UNRWA / CC BY-SA

The United Kingdom’s support to Palestinian refugees is satisfactory — but there’s room for improvement.

That’s the assessment of the British aid watchdog Independent Commission for Aid Impact, which on Friday published a report on the U.K. Department for International Development’s involvement with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.

The report says DfID is using its influence positively, UNRWA is doing good work particularly in health and education, and there is positive impact on intended beneficiaries. However, ICAI also mentions there is growing gap between supply and demand of services for Palestinian refugees, so it recommends:

  • Urgent assessment to determine the true needs.

  • For DfID to use its political weight to support UNRWA reform activities.

  • DfID should encourage UNRWA to engage more directly with refugees, providing technical assistance when necessary.

The agency welcomed the report’s findings and said it highlights the “tangible results” obtained despite the “very challenging operating conditions” they must operate in, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness told Devex.

Asked about how the U.N. agency plans to address the concerns on reform raised by ICAI, Gunness noted they are committed to resolving those problems and commented: “DfID will be providing a management response to the specific recommendations in three weeks’ time and UNRWA will engage with DfID on this.”

He added that they will work with the U.K. aid agency to implement the report’s recommendations, but “ultimately, a long-term solution for [Palestinian] refugees can only be reached through a political agreement, and UNRWA’s situation is just one example that highlights the urgency of making progress on this.”

“In the meantime our big challenge is ensuring that we have the funding needed to meet the needs of Palestine refugees and we call on to support.”

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    Carlos Santamaria

    As associate editor for breaking news, Carlos Santamaria supervises Devex's Manila-based news team and the creation of our daily newsletter. Carlos joined Devex after a decade working for international wire services Reuters, AP, Xinhua, EFE and Philippine social news network Rappler in Madrid, Beijing, Manila, New York and Bangkok. During that time, he also covered natural disasters on the ground in Myanmar and Japan.