Jordan warns of instability if UN Palestine Refugee Agency’s funds cut

21 June 2011

UNRWA Commissioner General appeals for Arab funds

21 June 2011

The Prime Minister of Jordan, Marouf al-Bakheet, has warned of instability if the UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, is not properly funded and the Agency’s essential services to millions of Palestine refugees in the Middle East are cut. In a speech to UNRWA’s Advisory Commission delivered by the Deputy Prime Minister, Saed Hayel el-Sror, Mr al-Bakheet said that in light of the transformations in the Middle East, Palestinian rights had to be maintained. “These are totally in line with the aspirations and hopes in the region," he said. Referring to recent protests by Palestine refugees on the borders of Israel, he stressed that “their lawful rights were being denied”, arguing that these were “important elements of stability in the region”.

In view of what Mr al-Bakheet called “the critical political situation in the region”, he told the meeting of host governments and major donors to UNRWA that it was important to support the Agency, thus supporting “peace and stability”. He said this was a matter of the highest national priority for his government and a matter of “Jordanian national security”.

Later, addressing the UNRWA meeting, its Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, said “the events sweeping the region have resonated in the Palestinian refugee communities, where grievances about long-denied rights, as well as aspirations for a better life, run deep.” Announcing a projected deficit for 2011 of US$ 63 million, he appealed to Arab donors who he said gave generously for projects and relief. While their share of UNRWA’s core budget “increased last year to 3 per cent”, Grandi said “we really need a much bigger increase”.

In conclusion he said: “The prolonged stagnation of the peace process is an increasing threat to the region’s stability.” He called on the “political actors to take the bold steps necessary to embrace urgently a framework to end the conflict leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, thriving in peace and mutual security with its neighbours and to a just and lasting solution to the refugee question. As the refugees emerged from – and exist as a consequence of – the 1948 conflict, addressing their plight, with their engagement and consent, is a prerequisite for a resolution of the conflict.”

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For further 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

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.

For more information, please contact: