UNRWA deplores deaths of Palestine refugees - Commissioner-General's statement

16 May 2011

16 May 2011

Filippo GrandiI deplore the deaths of Palestine refugees in Lebanon, the occupied Golan Heights and the occupied Palestinian territory.

As Commissioner-General of UNRWA, I continue to follow the situation confronting the population we serve with concern and I echo the call on all parties to show restraint and ensure that civilians are not killed or injured.

These sad events demonstrate once more the vulnerability of the Palestine refugees we serve.

They underline the need for a just and durable solution, based on UN resolutions, to resolve the plight of those who have endured statelessness, exile and dispossession for 63 years.

At a time of profound and far-reaching change in the region, I urge the parties to address what the Secretary-General has called the “unsustainable status quo in the Arab-Israeli conflict” including the fate of the refugees.

I fear that failure to do so will only lead to more instability and further loss of life.

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$ 69 million.

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