Statement of Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, “Peace Day Effort: An Effort for Middle East Peace”

19 September 2023
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini addresses ministerial meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, on the “Peace Day Effort: An Effort for Middle East Peace”. © 2023 UNRWA Photo

Statement of Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, 

The Commissioner-General

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

“Peace Day Effort: An Effort for Middle East Peace”

New York, 18 September 2023


Your Highness, 


I want to start by commending this initiative and hope that it will lead to peace and stability.  

I see at least three key opportunities today:  

First, an opportunity for a genuine reflection on what an Israeli-Palestinian peace would mean for relations in the Middle East and beyond.  

Second, an opportunity to see wins for the Palestinians, the Israelis and the region through a peace agreement. 

And third, an opportunity to find a just solution to the plight of Palestine Refugees living within the oPt and in the region. 

A sustainable peace can emerge if it is based on relevant UN resolutions and builds upon the untapped potential of the Arab Peace Initiative.  

A sustainable peace is also one that addresses the plight of Palestine Refugees as enshrined in international and UN resolutions.  

For nearly 75 years, UNRWA has run schools and health centers and has offered social protection to the most vulnerable.  

It has responded to numerous urgent humanitarian crises with food, cash assistance and shelter rehabilitation.  

However, today, the Agency’s existential financial crisis threatens to reverse years of investment in human rights and regional human security. 

Together, we must move from a discussion about UNRWA’s finances to a more political discussion on its role and future.

UNRWA is soon turning 75.  

We must achieve a sustainable solution for Palestine refugees, to avoid having to mark a 100th commemoration and to achieve a lasting peace in the Middle East

This is the only way we can have a sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous Middle East for all.  

Thank you.  

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.


For more information, please contact:

Juliette Touma
UNRWA Director of Communications
+962-79-867-4628 (on whatsapp)
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson/ Director of External Relations & Communications
+962 (0)79 090 0140