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Communiqué Ministerial Strategic Dialogue on UNRWA
Foreign Ministers H.E Margot Wallström of Sweden and H.E Ayman Safadi of Jordan hosted a ministerial strategic dialogue in Stockholm today to discuss sustainable ways to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Participants included representatives from Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Norway, United Kingdom, the European External Action Service and the European Commission. The meeting was attended by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, who presented UNRWA’s continued vital programmes to assist over 5 million Palestinian refugees despite the financial challenges which the Agency faced in 2018.
Participants stressed that UNRWA’s programmes are a critical component for regional development, stability and security in the interest of all. They emphasized the importance of these programmes in offering protection and vital development support to over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and Gaza.
Participants expressed appreciation for all partners who helped the agency to overcome its budget deficit last year, thus ensuring that UNRWA was able to maintain the educational, health, relief and key development services to refugees.
Participants support the Agency’s call for a renewed international commitment for 2019, which will show once again that political and financial support is key to regional and international stability. UNRWA serves such an important objective through sustaining hope among Palestine refugees by running schools for over half a million boys and girls, 8.5 million primary health care consultations and life-saving emergency assistance to 1.5 million Palestinian refugees affected by conflict and humanitarian crisis, particularly in Gaza and Syria.
Participants discussed which concrete measures could be taken to raise international awareness about UNRWA’s vital role and operations, including in regional groups and high-level international meetings.
Participants underlined that UNRWA must continue to operate in fulfillment of its UN mandate until a durable and just solution to the refugees issue is found in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, including resolution 194, and within the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.
Participants also agreed to invite all donors to actively support UNRWA, notably through multiyear financial commitment and core financing, to help the Agency bridge the 2019 funding gap and ensure sustainable financial support in 2020 and beyond.
Participants concur that high-level events, such as the pledging conference in New York in June, and an extraordinary ministerial event at UN General Assembly opening session in September, should urge partners to step up their commitment to the wellbeing of Palestine refugees and to their human development, primarily by ensuring that all UNRWA programmes continue uninterrupted.
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals. UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
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