Queen Rania: "The world owes UNRWA a huge debt of gratitude"

17 February 2009

17 Feburary 2009

Amman

Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan today praised the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, which she said had offered the people of Gaza a "glimmer of hope" during and after the war. Speaking at an emergency session of UNRWA‘s Advisory Commission, the Queen said she could not imagine how the people of Gaza would have survived without UNRWA, describing the Agency as "teacher, doctor and food provider", working with "incredible resourcefulness" to offer a "lifeline to the people of Gaza".

She urged all donor delegations to honor their pledges of funding to UNRWA, following warnings from the agency that if the present 52 million USD shortfall in UNRWA‘s General Fund continues, thousands of Agency staff, such as teachers and doctors would not be paid. The Queen described such an eventuality as "unthinkable". She also stressed the terrible effects of the recent conflict in Gaza on children. “There are many children in Gaza, but there is no childhood” she said. UNRWA has unveiled a 345 million USD "Quick Recovery Plan" for Gaza which has received nearly 145 million USD of confirmed pledges.

Queen Rania paid tribute to the staff of the Agency, describing them as "real heroes" who she said had worked with "remarkable bravery and dedication". To the delight of delegates, she said it was her ambition following the conflict in Gaza "to go there and shake each and every UNRWA staff member by the hand".

Ends

For more 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 US$ 69 million.

For more information, please contact:

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