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Advisory Commission Field Visit to the West Bank Field
Twenty-seven members of the Advisory Commission (AdCom) to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) concluded a two-day visit to through the West Bank field of UNRWA operations on 19-20 June, 2019. Visiting members included representatives from Canada, Belgium, Turkey, Australia, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The Advisory Commission members met with representatives from local communities, UNRWA school students, women’s groups, as well as representatives of local NGOs and UN agencies. The field visit aimed to highlight the current humanitarian situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and the overall challenges faced by Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
The first day included a visit to East Jerusalem where the AdCom members were briefed on access restrictions, the impact of the Barrier and settlement expansion on the lives and livelihoods of East Jerusalem Palestine refugee residents. This included a tour of military checkpoints inside the city; specifically those in and around the towns of Anata and Hizma, as well as the Shu’fat refugee camp checkpoint. Local community members from Shu’fat camp shared their personal experiences of live in the camp and their concerns about the demolition orders on homes and community centres in and around the camp from the Jerusalem municipality.
On the second day of the visit, the AdCom members were briefed on the daily challenges faced by Palestine refugees in Arroub camp, Hebron, located in the southern West Bank. UNRWA highlighted the protection concerns faced by the community and the impact of the excessive use of force and tear gas by Israeli Security Forces, and settler violence in the occupied West Bank.
The delegation was then taken to Al Walaja, a village surrounded by the Barrier. The tour, which included a meeting with the Al Walaja village council, spotlighted the settlement expansion of Gilo and Har Gilo and home demolitions affecting the community.
The Advisory Commission convened in Jordan on 17-18 June to discuss support for UNRWA as it tirelessly continues to meet the needs of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The meeting was attended by UNRWA Commissioner-General Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, who noted the acute financial difficulty currently facing UNRWA and noted that he maintains confidence that donor partners will support the Agency in this phase of UNRWA resource mobilization.
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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