Palestinian refugees in the Arab Spring

04 November 2011

4 November 2011

Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, at the International Peace Institute in New York

Filippo Grandi told an IPI audience that the question of accommodating the wishes of the Palestinian refugees was “suffering a particular stagnation”, leaving them profoundly frustrated at their continuing plight six decades after the partition of the land they once inhabited.

“The refugee question tends to be pushed towards the end of the discussion,” Mr Grandi said of the talks over the ongoing impasse with Israel. “This adds to the frustration of people who have been waiting for a solution to their problem for so long.”

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.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
UNRWA Arabic Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0724

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