Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey Visits UNRWA Fields in Gaza and West Bank

04 October 2017
© 2017 UNRWA Photo

Today, Ambassador Ahmet Yıldız, the Deputy Foreign Minister of Turkey and his delegation composed of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency and the Turkish Red Crescent concluded a two-day visit to UNRWA fields in Gaza and the West Bank in conjunction with Turkey’s responsibilities in the Advisory Commission (AdCom) of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as Vice Chair and Chair in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The Deputy Foreign Minister and his delegation met with Palestine refugees and officials of UNRWA. He also met with the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr. Pierre Krähenbühl, to assess the humanitarian situation of Palestine refugees in the region and explore together how Turkey can further support UNRWA in delivering essential services for refugees.

During his visit, the Deputy Foreign Minister witnessed the sheer scale and depth of the humanitarian issues that Palestine refugees contend with on a daily basis. He said: “I am saddened by what I have seen during my visit to the occupied Palestinian territory. Palestine refugees face unimaginable hardships that are wholly unjust and unacceptable. However, I am also heartened to see that in spite of the circumstances, UNRWA manages to create opportunities for Palestine refugees, to safeguard their access to basic healthcare and education, and to promote their right to dignity. We have to be clear at this point. The Palestine refugee crisis can only be solved through a long-lasting and sustainable solution. In our understanding, this can be only achieved with a two-state solution. Negotiations for a solution should lead to a contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as her capital”.

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA expressed his deep appreciation for Turkey’s increasing support for Palestine refugees and the Agency: “Turkey, as one of the Agency’s longest-standing partners, has long shown deep solidarity and commitment to the issue of Palestine refugees. I thank the Deputy Foreign Minister and his delegation for their visit, which gave them the opportunity to get better acquainted with the services UNRWA provides to Palestine refugees.” The Commissioner-General also stated his gratitude for Turkey’s exceptional support to UNRWA this year, which has been vital in raising the issue of Palestine refugees and UNRWA’s funding to the highest levels at the United Nations, endeavouring to achieve financial sustainability for the Agency.

Turkey, one of the founding members of the Advisory Commission in 1949, has always been important to UNRWA and Palestine refugees as both a donor and strategic partner. In July of this year, the country became Vice Chair of the AdCom and, along with Switzerland, was central to the development of the UN Secretary-General’s March 2017 report to the General Assembly in New York calling on all concerned parties to come together and secure UNRWA’s financial future. In that regard, Turkey continues to support the efforts to place the Agency’s funding on a sufficient, sustainable and predictable footing. Turkey is also the Permanent Chair of the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA. As usual, it has provided this year US$ 1.5 million for core operations as well as 15,000 metric tons of flour, worth US$ 4.6 million, through the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (AFAD) for the refugees of Gaza.

Besides its regular financial contribution to UNRWA‘s budget, Turkey has recently decided to provide an extra contribution of US$ 500 thousand to the Agency upon the call of the OIC Secretary General, along with an additional sum of US$ 100 thousand for the works of the UNRWA Secretariat to establish a Trust Fund by the World Bank and an endowment fund by the Islamic Development Bank.

Background Information

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 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank 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.

For more information, please contact:

Christopher Gunness
Spokesperson, Director of Advocacy & Strategic Communications
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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