Note Attributable to the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly

10 March 2010

9 March 2010

United Nations, New York

The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Ali Abdussalam Treki, met with the newly appointed Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Mr Filippo Grandi, to discuss the situation for Palestine refugees in the Middle East. The President thanked UNRWA for its vital support to nearly 4.7 million Palestine refugeess and congratulated Mr Grandi on his appointment.

The President noted that after more than 60 years the question of Palestine refugees was still awaiting a just and durable solution, based on United Nations resolutions. Mr Grandi expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip where UNRWA continues to provide health and educational services to refugees. Mr Grandi emphasised that UNRWA was a voluntarily-funded Agency whose needs grew steadily each year. He stressed the importance of providing UNRWA with the necessary financial and human resources to fulfil its mandate.

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 more than US$ 106  million.

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