On Tuesday 23 October, Filippo Grandi, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) arrived in Ireland for his first official visit. During his stay, Mr. Grandi met Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore and junior minister Joe Costello. The commissioner-general informed the Tánaiste on the current situation of refugees and the work of UNWRA in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. The Tánaiste and Mr. Grandi discussed the situation of Palestinian refugees in Syria, who suffer tremendously under the ongoing conflict between the rebels of the Free Syrian Army and the troops of President Assad.
Over the last years, Ireland has been an important supporter of UNWRA. Since 2007, Ireland has donated over US$ 35 million to the UN body. Given UNWRA's reliance on voluntary gifts, Ireland's contribution has created certainty in the income of UNWRA over the last couple of years. "I want to thank the people and government of Ireland who are among our most loyal partners for their support." the commissioner-general stated. With Ireland's EU presidency coming up, Mr Grandi also discussed the renewal of the two-year funding agreement between the EU and UNWRA, which provides for a minimum of €4 million a year, as well as additional funds for special projects.
Ireland has not only been contributing to UNWRA's work by donating money. The most eastern EU state is also one of the 25 members of the Agency's Advisory Commission. The main task of this commission is to provide advice and assistance to the commissioner-general.
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