HomeUnited NationsSupporting UN’s Palestine refugee agency, means ‘investing in stability for the region’

Supporting UN’s Palestine refugee agency, means ‘investing in stability for the region’

“UNRWA cannot be compared to any other UN humanitarian agency,” he said, drawing attention to is mandate to provide “government-like services” without the fiscal and financial tools of a government.  “Put simply, there is more to accomplish, even as financial resources continue to diminish,” he said, noting a .6 billion dollar budget gap for 2022.

Off the radar

Mr. Guterres invited participants to “imagine for a moment that we are a young man or woman Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon, or in Syria, or in Jordan, or in Gaza”.    
Current UNRWA requests include additional emergency funding to address humanitarian needs in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, and Lebanon.
“Multilateralism requires not only political commitments but also resources to implement them,” the UN chief continued, vowing to pursue “every avenue to sustain services to Palestine refugees in line with the UNRWA mandate”.  

Millions of Palestine refugees are counting on us to relieve their suffering and to help them build a better future UN chief

We have depleted our financial reserves and reached the limits of cost control and austerity measures,” which are now affecting the quality of services. Mr. Guterres outlined how their contributions would enable over half a million children to receive quality education in UNRWA schools; allow 140 clinics to offer over eight million medical consultations each year; and provide cash, food assistance and social services to millions of people where poverty rates can exceed 80 per cent. 

Chronic underfunding

Many families in Gaza need humanitarian aid to survive and receive food parcels from the UN agency working in the region, UNRWA. “Let us pledge to support UNRWA and leave no one behind”. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) helps combat malnutrition and iron deficiency in Palestine. For the last 10 years, UNRWA’s stagnating funds have caused interruptions and income unpredictability that have compelled the agency to operate for a decade with an average shortfall of around 0 million, said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini 

Hosting the event, Assembly President Abdulla Shahid pointed out that UNRWA and its budget are “moving in opposite directions”.

Two States, side by side

The UNRWA chief highlighted that “despair and hopelessness” are growing in the refugee camps; political, economic and security conditions deteriorating across the West Bank; and Gaza is struggling to recover from the impact of last year’s conflict.  
“It means investing in the future through education of children and youth, girls and boys, young women and men and…honouring the commitment of the international community to Palestine refugees and their rights until a just and durable political solution is found”.  
Mr. Shahid beseeched the ambassadors to “look beyond the monetary value” toward “commitments, principles and values to global peace and security, to peoples, prosperity, and the planet”. 
“But until then, UNRWA remains vital in supporting those in need,” he said, reminding Member States that they had “collectively committed to providing assistance to Palestine refugees” by creating and supporting the agency. 
To support millions of Palestine refugees with vital lifesaving services and programmes, the UN official implored the international community and UN General Assembly “to meet this funding gap”.

“It means investing in the economic and social wellbeing of Palestine refugees and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Secretary-General António Guterres told the UN General Assembly ad hoc committee for voluntary contributions to UNRWA.He said for them, a political solution now seems “more far away than ever” with no active peace process and the diplomatic Quartet – consisting of the UN, European Union, United States and Russia – unable to meet, as evictions and settlements continued.    

‘Opposite directions’

It is about providing a sense of normality for the young people who in their own words, ‘did not choose to live through war and blockade’,” he said, urging the participants to “live up to those commitments for the millions of lives and livelihoods that count on us”. 
“Millions of Palestine refugees are counting on us to relieve their suffering and to help them build a better future.  We cannot let them down,” he spelled out. 

There is more to accomplish, even as financial resources continue to diminish – Assembly President

The Secretary-General described supporting UNRWA as not only “a matter of justice” but also “a barrier to the progression of extremism” and terrorism.

A young child watches over her toddler siblings sleeping in a classroom of UNRWA Salah Eddin School in Gaza. The Secretary-General also reiterated the importance of efforts to realize Israel and Palestine as two States living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both.  
We are asking for your solidarity and your support,” said Mr. Guterres, appealing for pledges to bridge the gap between UNRWA’s mandate and its budget for vital services until the end of the year.   

Decade of stagnation 

While the war in Ukraine and other global events have pushed the Palestinian question out of media headlines and political debate, he said the international community needed to “work to address all crises with determination”, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the plight of Palestine refugees. 
A young child watches over her toddler siblings sleeping in a classroom of UNRWA Salah Eddin School in Gaza.
The World Food Programme (WFP) helps combat malnutrition and iron deficiency in Palestine.
The UN chief explained the need to put the agency on “durable financial footing,” which requires stabilized financing to reach “sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding”.   

Over the last ten years, the needs of Palestine refugees have continued to increase even as funds have stagnated.   Many families in Gaza need humanitarian aid to survive and receive food parcels from the UN agency working in the region, UNRWA.

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