Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General On Alec Collett

23 November 2009

23 November 2009

New York

The Secretary-General has been informed that the remains of Alec Collett, who was on assignment for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and disappeared in Lebanon in 1985, have been found in eastern Lebanon.

The Secretary-General appreciates the role played by the relevant authorities in the United Kingdom and in Lebanon to resolve this matter after so many years. He is grateful for the work done by the Department of Safety and Security in helping to determine what happened to Mr. Collett. Although he is saddened by Alec Collett‘s death, he hopes that the actions taken to find his remains can provide a measure of comfort to his loved ones.

The Secretary-General expresses his sincere sympathies to Alec Collett‘s family and would like to restate the commitment of the United Nations to assist them in the days ahead.

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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