On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UNRWA promotes inclusion and leadership

03 December 2019
On International Day of Persons with Disabilities, UNRWA promotes inclusion and leadership

On the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) reaffirms its commitment to promoting the rights of Palestine refugees with disabilities through its programmes and services and empower them to participate fully in decisions that affect their lives.

“Persons with disabilities are historically marginalized, and even more so during humanitarian emergencies,” said Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders. “This must change and the needs of persons with disabilities should be an integral part of any effective development and humanitarian response. As a humanitarian agency, UNRWA has a unique role to play in providing services to Palestine refugees with disabilities and stands ready to ensure their full and effective inclusion into all its programmes. As we work with beneficiaries directly, we have the ability to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are promoted through all our services and through our protection work.”

The General Assembly, in setting out the Agency’s mandate, routinely encourages the Agency to address the needs, rights and protection of persons with disabilities in its operations, including through the provision of necessary support in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Despite the challenges that UNRWA faces,  including financial,  it continues to take concrete actions to provide Palestine refugees with disabilities with needed assistance through its programmes, in partnership with civil society organisations, as well as through the capacity development of its staff to ensure that they have the skills required to include persons with disabilities at all times.  UNRWA has participated actively in inter-agency efforts to strengthen disability inclusion, such as the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action that were adopted last month.

Disability inclusion is an integral part of the work UNRWA does in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agency will also take steps to implement the first-ever ever United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy (UNDIS), launched by the Secretary-General in June 2019.These, and other relevant frameworks, enhance the participation and leadership of Palestine refugees with disabilities in all areas of life and community, according to this year’s international day theme of ‘Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda’.

“We have organized events to raise awareness about disability rights in our five fields of operations this year,” said Mr. Saunders. “We are doing a lot to make our programmes inclusive, as our annual report on disability inclusion shows. Much still remains to be done and we stand ready to work together with all relevant actors to ensure that everyone is included, empowered and contributes to his/her community.”

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 5.4 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.

For more information, please contact:

Sami Mshasha
Director of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+972 (0)258 90724
Tamara Alrifai
UNRWA Spokesperson
+962 (0)79 090 0140