“It means investing in the economic and social well-being of Palestinian refugees and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Secretary-General António Guterres told the UN General Assembly. to this committee for voluntary contributions to UNRWA.
“It means investing in the future through education for children and young people, girls and boys, young women and men and… the international community’s commitment to Palestinian refugees and honoring their rights until there is a just and lasting political solution found it”.
off the radar
Mr. Guterres invited participants to “imagine for a moment that we are a young man or woman, a Palestinian refugee living in Lebanon, or in Syria, or in Jordan, or in Gaza”.
He said to them that a political solution now seems “further away than ever” without an active peace process and the diplomatic Quartet – made up of the UN, the European Union, the United States and Russia – unable to meet as expulsions and settlements continued.
While the war in Ukraine and other global events have pushed the Palestinian issue from headlines and political debate, he said the international community must “work with determination to confront all crises,” including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the dire situation of Palestine. refugees.
The Secretary-General described supporting UNRWA as not only “a matter of justice” but also “an obstacle to the progress of extremism” and terrorism.
Over the past decade, the needs of Palestinian refugees have continued to grow, even as resources have stagnated.
†We ask for your solidarity and your supportGuterres said, calling for commitments to bridge the gap between UNRWA’s mandate and its budget for essential services through the end of the year.
The UN chief explained that it is necessary to give the agency a “sustainable financial foundation”, which requires stabilized funding to achieve “sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding”.
“Millions of Palestinian refugees count on us to alleviate their suffering and help them build a better future. We cannot disappoint them,” he said.
Two states, side by side
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.
“But until then, UNRWA remains vital in supporting those in need,” he said, reminding member states that they had “jointly committed to providing assistance to Palestinian refugees” by establishing and supporting the agency. .
Mr. Guterres outlined how their contributions would enable more than half a million children to receive quality education in UNRWA schools; Enabling 140 clinics to provide more than eight million medical consultations annually; and providing cash, food aid and social services to millions of people where poverty can reach more than 80 percent.
“Multilateralism requires not only political commitments, but also resources to implement them,” the UN chief continued, pledging “every avenue to support services to Palestinian refugees in accordance with the UNRWA mandate.”
“Let’s promise to support UNRWA and not leave anyone behind”.
Hosting the event, Assembly President Abdulla Shahid pointed out that UNRWA and its budget are “moving in opposite directions”.
“Put simply, there is more to do even as funding continues to shrink,” he said, pointing to a $1.6 billion budget deficit by 2022.
Current UNRWA requests include additional emergency funding to address humanitarian needs in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria and Lebanon.
To support millions of Palestinian refugees with essential life-saving services and programs, the UN official pleaded with the international community and the UN General Assembly “to close this funding gap.”
Mr Shahid implored the ambassadors to “look beyond monetary value” to “commitments, principles and values for global peace and security, for peoples, prosperity and the planet”.
†It’s about giving a sense of normalcy to the young people who, in their own words, “didn’t choose to endure war and blockades”’ he said, urging participants to “keep those commitments for the millions of lives and livelihoods that rely on us.”
Decade of stagnation
Over the past decade, UNRWA’s stagnant funds have caused disruptions and unpredictable revenues, forcing the agency to operate for a decade with an average deficit of about $100 million, said UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini.
“UNRWA cannot be compared to any other UN humanitarian agency,” he said, drawing attention to its mandate to provide “government-like services” without a government’s fiscal and financial instruments.
†We have exhausted our financial reserves and have reached the limits of cost containment and austerity measures”, which are now affecting the quality of service.
The UNRWA chief stressed that “despair and hopelessness” is increasing in the refugee camps; political, economic and security conditions in the West Bank deteriorate; and Gaza is struggling to recover from the impact of last year’s conflict.