UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia reiterate support for UNRWA

10 February 2024


UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini conducted a four-day official visit to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as part of his efforts to mobilize support for the Agency as it continues to respond to the catastrophic situation in Gaza.

During high level meetings he held in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Kuwait and Riyadh, Lazzarini warned that the Agency’s lifesaving operations in Gaza and its critical services across the region are now seriously threatened following the decision of some of its main partners to freeze their funding. He called on UNRWA’s regional partners to help maintain essential services in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“Palestine Refugees have long relied on the solidarity and the generosity of Arab governments and people. With the current decision of key donors to freeze temporarily their funding to UNRWA, I turn to partners in the region to help the Agency remain a lifeline for Palestine Refugees,” said Commissioner-General Lazzarini.

Following their meeting in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, stressed his unwavering support for the humanitarian work of UNRWA, noting that sustaining the Agency’s humanitarian efforts has become an urgent priority, requiring concerted efforts from the international community to support the Agency and all UN efforts made to provide relief to the Palestinian people.

Sheikh Abdullah underlined that allegations that UNRWA is facing should not have negative repercussions on UNRWA's humanitarian efforts in Gaza, where about 1.7 million have been displaced due to the continuing conflict, adding that he appreciated UNRWA’s and UN headquarters’ immediate action to investigate the claims. He reiterated a call for donor countries that have suspended their funding to UNRWA to reconsider their decision.

On Monday in Qatar, His Excellency the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani emphasized that the State of Qatar will continue to support UNRWA, given that the Agency’s responsibility has doubled amid the current cataclysmic humanitarian situation facing the innocent civilian population in Gaza. He also underscored the keenness of Qatar to continue the unhindered and sustainable delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Sheikh Mohammed warned of the catastrophic consequences arising from suspending funding for UNRWA. He underlined the need to distinguish between UNRWA as a UN agency with deep-rooted values and traditions and the claims against a handful of its personnel who are under investigation.

On Tuesday in Kuwait City, His Excellency Abdulla Ali Al-Yahya, Minister of Foreign Affairs, reaffirmed Kuwait’s steadfast support for the Palestinian people, including its support for UNRWA, noting that the Agency constitutes a basic pillar of stability in the region. He underlined the importance of the Agency’s noble work and the humanitarian services it provides to Palestine Refugees.

On Thursday in Riyadh, HRH the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal Bin Farhan underscored the centrality of UNRWA to the humanitarian response in Gaza and encouraged the Commissioner-General to continue showing leadership at the helm of the largest humanitarian actor in the region.

Later the same night, the four Foreign Ministers met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Jordan Mr. Ayman Safadi, the Foreign Minister of Egypt Mr. Sameh Shukri, and the Secretary General of the PLO Executive Committee, Mr. Hussein el Sheikh. The participants at the meeting called for an immediate ceasefire, and expressed their full support of UNRWA, calling on its partners to continue to support the Agency as well.

Nearly 2 million people in Gaza - the vast majority women and children - depend on UNRWA for their sheer survival as the Agency manages overcrowded shelters, food assistance and primary health care. If the funding remains suspended, the Agency’s operations will be compromised by the end of February, not only in Gaza but also across the region.



Notes to Editors

  • UNRWA is facing allegations that 12 of its 13,000 staff in Gaza were involved in the 7 October attacks in Israel, with some key partners suspending funding to the Agency.
  • The UN Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) in New York, the highest investigative authority in the UN system, was immediately seized of the matter, launching an investigation. The OIOS team has arrived in Amman and started investigations. Before learning of the allegations, UNRWA had already announced that it was commissioning an independent review of the internal mechanisms that UNRWA has in place against possible breaches of neutrality, and more details of that review process were released by the UN Secretary-General on 5 February.
Background Information: 

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency’s area of operations pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.

UNRWA operates in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, The Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. 

Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, nearly 75 years on.

UNRWA helps Palestine Refugees achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.

Your support is crucial to help us provide emergency aid 
to displaced families in Gaza

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