Donors reaffirm support for UN relief agency serving Palestine refugees
The two-day meeting brought together delegates representing 28 donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), as well as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The participants reaffirmed their support for the Agency and its efforts to maintain services for some 3.8 million refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip, UNRWA said in a statement.
A number of delegates expressed their appreciation for the "exceptional" efforts of UNRWA staff, who often work in very difficult circumstances at personal risk. This sentiment was echoed in the statements by representatives from Jordan (on behalf of the host countries), Sweden (on behalf of the European Union), the United States, the European Commission, the PLO, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France, Norway, Japan and Syria.
The representative of the United Kingdom stressed that the prompt response of donors to UNRWA's emergency appeals reflected a recognition of the Agency's "ability to deliver and deliver effectively." Canada's representative announced that his Government would increase its contribution to UNRWA's regular budget by 10 million Canadian dollars.
Participants also noted obstacles hampering the free movement of humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank as a result of closures and other measures, a number of which were described by some delegates as "collective punishment" that ran contrary to international humanitarian law. The representatives stressed the importance of the Agency's unhindered movement in carrying out its vital role.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Peter Hansen thanked the participants for their continued support for UNRWA, which he said sent a positive message to Palestine refugees reaffirming the international community's commitment to their cause until a just settlement could be reached.