Jordan, Sweden Convene Trilateral Meeting on UNRWA
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan, H.E Ayman Safadi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, H.E Ann Linde, and the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, held a meeting by teleconference today to discuss the importance of international and regional support to UNRWA as it faces increased financial and operational pressures compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic in its areas of operations. The meeting was also attended by the Minister of International Development Cooperation of Sweden, H.E Peter Eriksson, and former Acting Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Christian Saunders.
The meeting addressed the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic on Palestine refugees and on the Agency’s budget and operations. With the destabilising effect of COVID-19 worldwide, participants called on the international community to respond to the UNRWA flash appeal and emphasized the importance of the Agency’s work as a critical component for regional development, stability and security.
The trilateral discussions explored resource mobilisation efforts in support of the 5.6 million Palestinian refugees under the Agency’s mandate. To this end, participants discussed the preparations for convening the second Ministerial Strategic Dialogue on UNRWA in the near future, via telecommunication, with the aim to ensure sustainable political and financial support to UNRWA in 2020 and beyond.
The meeting explored ways to support UNRWA following the overwhelming international support to renew its mandate at the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019. In this regard, the participants stressed the need to translate the political support into financial support, to allow UNRWA to continue delivering its vital services to Palestinian refugees efficiently and without interruption. Participants acknowledged the role that UNRWA plays in situations of humanitarian emergencies, as well as its role in ensuring that Palestinian refugees continue to access basic rights such as the right to health, education and other human rights, in line with Agenda 2030, as well as with the Decade of Action, which aims to leave no one behind, including Palestine refugees.
Participants of the teleconference underlined their strong political support for UNRWA and for it to continue to operate in fulfillment of its mandate until a durable and just solution of the question of the Palestine refugees is found in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, including UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and within the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.
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 5.6 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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