General Assembly, noting grave financial situation of UNRWA, calls for institutional strengthening through UN Regular Budget financing

19 April 2011

18 April 2011
New York

Text Adopted by Vote of 123-1 (Israel)

Taking note of the “grave financial situation” of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the General Assembly today requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to continue to support the Agency’s institutional strengthening through the provision of financial resources from the United Nations regular budget.

Acting on the recommendation of its Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization), the Assembly adopted, by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 1 against (Israel) with no abstentions, a resolution reiterating that UNRWA’s critical financial situation was caused in part by structural underfunding, as well as rising expenditures resulting from the deterioration of the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions in the region. (See Annex I).

Also, while calling on the Agency to continue its management reform process, the Assembly stressed that approval of funding for UNRWA for the biennium 2012-2013 and for future bienniums, was subject to justification in the context of the proposed programme budget for the relevant bienniums and consideration thereof by the General Assembly.

That action took into account the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report on strengthening the UNRWA’s management capacity (document A/65/705), in which he notes that total programme requirements had been underfunded by an average of 12 per cent over the last four bienniums, and that, with refugee numbers approaching 5 million, UNRWA faced a funding shortfall of US $63 million for 2011. The report describes the Agency’s efforts to strengthen its donor base and past efforts by the General Assembly to put UNRWA operations on a more secure financial footing.

Accordingly, it concludes that to achieve the objectives of implementing UNRWA’s mid-term strategy over the period 2010-2015, thus providing refugees with improved basic services in line with national and international norms, including those set by the United Nations, the Assembly should: take note of the perilous cash-flow situation faced by UNRWA; and request the Secretary-General to propose increased funding from the regular budget on an incremental basis over the next four bienniums.

The following delegations subsequently informed of their intention to vote in favour of the draft resolution: Armenia, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guyana, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Mauritania, Spain, Swaziland and the United States.

Annex - Vote on Strengthening UNRWA

The draft resolution on strengthening the management capacity of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (document A/65/422/Add.1) was adopted by a recorded vote of 123 in favour to 1 against, with no abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.

Against: Israel.

Abstain: none.

Absent: Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Grenada, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iraq, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia (Federated States of), Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Spain, Swaziland, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, United States, Uzbekistan, Zambia.

Background Information

UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to a population of some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip to achieve their full potential in human development, pending a just solution to their plight. UNRWA’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, and microfinance.

Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by growing numbers of registered refugees, expanding need, and deepening poverty. As a result, the Agency's General Fund (GF), supporting UNRWA’s core activities and 97 per cent reliant on voluntary contributions, has begun each year with a large projected deficit. Currently the deficit stands at US$ 56 million.

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