UNRWA currently needs US$ 1.4 billion for operations,
programmes and emergency response.
Jeddah: At the request of the UN Secretary-General, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, attended the Arab League Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia today.
In his bilateral talks he highlighted the Agency’s dire funding crisis, amid unprecedented needs of Palestine Refugees. The Commissioner-General urgently called on rich Arab states to reinstate or increase their financial support as the Agency struggles to delivers on its mandate and to provide critical services to the Palestine Refugees.
“Support to Palestine Refugees is a collective obligation, including from Arab countries. Longtime historic partners have decreased their funding in the last few years, dramatically affecting our ability to maintain quality services, including education, health care and social protection. While countries hosting Palestine Refugees face their own acute political and financial challenges, I am hereby calling on Arab donors to support UNRWA and be among our closest partners,” said Lazzarini.
Over the last decade, UNRWA has suffered from underfunding every year, with a heavy toll on the quality of some services in its areas of operations. Meanwhile, refugees’ challenges continued to massively increase amid unprecedented poverty, unemployment, financial crises, neglect and in some cases conflicts and natural disasters.
“Arab countries were among the founders of UNRWA and the most vocal supporters of the rights of Palestine Refugees.
Today, as UNRWA risks collapse, I hear supportive statements from the region to Palestinians and urge that they be extended to the refugees through UNRWA,” added Lazzarini.
In 2018, Arab Donors’ funding to the Agency made up one-fourth of its total funding.
Since then, it has massively dropped, severely deepening the financial crisis the Agency struggles with.
“While we are one of the largest UN agencies in the world, we live hand to mouth. At the end of every month, we often are uncertain whether we can pay salaries to our nearly 30,000 staff.
UNRWA staff is the backbone and the engine of the Agency’s basic services: teachers, medical workers, engineers and logisticians. They should not live in constant uncertainty and limbo, and neither should the Palestine refugees they serve,” concluded Lazzarini.