Secretary-General's statement on attack on United Nations school

17 January 2009

17 January 2009

Beirut, Lebanon

Today, another United Nations school was hit by Israeli Defense Forces.

I condemn in the strongest terms this outrageous attack which is the third time this has happened.

The top Israeli leaders had apologized and had given me their assurances just two days ago while I was visiting Israel that UN premises would be fully respected.

I strongly demand a thorough investigation into these incidents, and the punishment of those who are responsible for these appalling acts.

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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