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AdCom chair gains insight into field-specific issues during April tour
07 May 2015
UNRWA Advisory Commission Chair Per Orneus visited Syria, Lebanon and Jordan in April to meet UNRWA staff, government officials, refugees and service providers, in addition to visiting refugee camps and gaining insight into the issues that define each field.
A key message to emerge from the visit was that the challenges faced by refugees are not getting any easier, despite the commitment of UNRWA and its staff. Stability is a growing concern in each field against the backdrop of broader regional developments.
In Syria, Mr. Orneus noted how UNRWA has coped with a rapid transformation from a normal and successful field operation pre-conflict, to a protracted crisis. Mr. Orneus also observed challenges related to staff safety and access to camps, and the subsequent impact on services.
In Lebanon, Mr. Orneus saw overcrowding, social pressures, the lack of rights for refugees, and the potential for the situation to ignite due to underfunding.
In Jordan, discussion focused on potential beneficial partnerships with the Government of Jordan and other stakeholders, through investment in improved services and infrastructure that would result in long-term cost savings, for example through improved school facilities.
Mr. Orneus hopes to visit Gaza and the West Bank in May. He will present his observations from the field visits to the Advisory Commission meeting on 15-16 June. Mr. Orneus hopes his observations, on behalf of all AdCom members, will support the UNRWA Commissioner-General by inspiring strategic discussion, and help bring about a sense of partnership between donors, host governments and the Agency around a shared vision and realistic understanding of the challenges faced by the Agency.