Statement by UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness

17 January 2011

17 January 2011

Barbara ShenstoneThe Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza, John Ging, and Barbara Shenstone, Director of UNRWA Operations in the West Bank, are to leave the Agency. John Ging is to take up a senior position in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in New York and Ms Shenstone is to return to her native Canada. Mr Ging has served UNRWA for nearly five years, Ms Shenstone for nearly four.


John GingMaking the announcement to UNRWA staff, Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi said: “Barbara and John have made exceptional contributions to UNRWA’s work under the most difficult circumstances: their commitment to ensuring the quality of UNRWA services has been extraordinary; their advocacy in support of rights has been outstanding – be it amidst heavy bombardment in Gaza during armed conflict or in responding to the abysmal rights abuses in the occupied West Bank. I salute the courage, strength and determination of their innovative leadership. I – and all of us – will miss them both as colleagues and for their extraordinary contributions to UNRWA and the refugees we serve.”

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For more information please contact:

Christopher Gunness
UNRWA Spokesperson
Orange: +972 (0) 54 240 2659
Jawwal: +972 (0) 588 942 8034
Office: +972 (0) 2 589 0267

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: