6.1 The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is responsible for providing basic health, education, and social services to 3.9 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
6.2 On 20 March 2002, we cleared a Recommendation for a Council Decision authorising the Commission to negotiate a Convention between the EC and UNRWA to provide core funding for the Agency's operations over the period 2002-2005. The purpose of this proposal is to authorise the conclusion of the Convention.
6.3 The new Convention will be implemented by two agreements of two years each, with annual negotiations for the contribution to the food aid budget. For 2002, UNRWA has requested a contribution to its General Fund of €55 million and a subsequent increase of 5 % in each of the following years. This amounts to €55 million in 2002, €57.8 million in 2003, €60.6 million in 2004, and €63.7 million in 2005.
6.4 The Convention will also allow, at UNRWA's request, the separate annual negotiation of the EC's contribution to UNRWA's food aid programme. UNRWA estimates the food aid programme will require €89.23 million in total for the four-year period.
6.5 The ability of UNRWA to provide its services is entirely dependent on sufficient annual voluntary contributions. The proposed Convention will help UNRWA to establish a firm financial footing, and to operate on a sustainable and cost-effective basis.