Queen Rania: "The world owes UNRWA a huge debt of gratitude"

17 February 2009


Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan today praised the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, which she said had offered the people of Gaza a "glimmer of hope" during and after the war. Speaking at an emergency session of UNRWA‘s Advisory Commission, the Queen said she could not imagine how the people of Gaza would have survived without UNRWA, describing the Agency as "teacher, doctor and food provider", working with "incredible resourcefulness" to offer a "lifeline to the people of Gaza".

She urged all donor delegations to honor their pledges of funding to UNRWA, following warnings from the agency that if the present 52 million USD shortfall in UNRWA‘s General Fund continues, thousands of Agency staff, such as teachers and doctors would not be paid. The Queen described such an eventuality as "unthinkable". She also stressed the terrible effects of the recent conflict in Gaza on children. “There are many children in Gaza, but there is no childhood” she said. UNRWA has unveiled a 345 million USD "Quick Recovery Plan" for Gaza which has received nearly 145 million USD of confirmed pledges.

Queen Rania paid tribute to the staff of the Agency, describing them as "real heroes" who she said had worked with "remarkable bravery and dedication". To the delight of delegates, she said it was her ambition following the conflict in Gaza "to go there and shake each and every UNRWA staff member by the hand".


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
+972 (0)54 240 2659
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
+972 (0)54 216 8295
+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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