Statement by Maxwell Gaylard on the closure of Sharek Youth Forum in the Gaza Strip

07 December 2010

United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian Territory 

7 December 2010

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the occupied Palestinian territory, Maxwell Gaylard, today voiced his concern about the forced closure on 30 November by the local authorities in Gaza of all Gaza-based offices of the non-governmental organisation Sharek Youth Forum.

“I am very concerned about the recent forced closing of Sharek Youth Forum in Gaza. Sharek is an important NGO partner of the United Nations in its work on behalf of children and the youth in Gaza”, Mr Gaylard said.

Mr Gaylard noted that “Sharek’s work forms part of the many important activities carried out by civil society organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory promoting development and the protection of human rights.“

He stated that freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental rights protected by international law as well as the Palestinian Basic Law and expressed his hope that Sharek would be permitted to continue its work in Gaza without further delay or undue hindrance.

Background Information

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA Programme Budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s Programme Budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

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

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