Select Committee on European Scrutiny Thirty-Second Report



Draft Council Decision on the conclusion of the Convention between the EC and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) concerning aid to refugees in the countries in the Near East for 2002­2005.

Legal base:Articles 181 and 300 EC; consultation; qualified majority voting
Department:International Development
Basis of consideration:Minister's letter of 28 May 2002
Previous Committee Report:HC 152-xxviii (2001-02), paragraph 6 (8 May 2002)
Discussed in Council:No date set, but early adoption expected
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:Cleared (decision reported on 8 May 2002)


  11.1  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.

  11.2  The purpose of this proposal is to authorise the conclusion of a Convention between the EC and UNRWA to provide core funding for the Agency's operations over the period 2002-2005.

  11.3  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.

  11.4  We cleared the document when we considered it on 8 May, but asked the Minister whether the sums proposed were likely to be amended when an assessment had been made of damage to health and education facilities since it was proposed in February, and whether such an assessment was already under way.

The Minister's letter

  11.5  The Secretary of State for International Development (Clare Short) replies:

"It is not likely that the sums proposed in the convention will be amended unless there is a significant change in UNRWA's regular budget needs. Additional requirements as a result of the recent Israeli Defence Force attacks, which UNRWA is currently reviewing, would be proposed through UNRWA's Emergency Appeals, and would need to be addressed by separate funding mechanisms outside the Convention."


  11.6  We cleared the document on 8 May and now thank the Minister for her reply to our additional questions.

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