UNRWA Commissioner-General Makes First Official Visit to Poland and Opens EU-Supported Photo Exhibition

27 January 2017
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl with the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Witold Waszczykowski. Photo courtesy of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On Thursday, 26 January, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl conducted his first visit to Poland, where he met with senior members of the Polish Government and attended the opening of the UNRWA Film and Photo Archive traveling exhibition, 'The Long Journey', shown for the first time in Central and Eastern Europe thanks to the support of the European Union and the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Krähenbühl met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Witold Waszczykowski, to express his appreciation for Poland’s valued support to the Agency’s core programmes and to discuss the many challenges facing Palestine refugees in the region, particularly in Syria and Gaza.

During his visit, Mr. Krähenbühl also met with the Undersecretary of State for Development Cooperation, Africa, Middle East and Human Rights, Joanna Wronecka, and the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Polish Parliament, Grzegorz Schetyna. In these meetings, he underlined his interest in further strengthening relations with Poland.

Mr. Krähenbühl participated in a panel discussion with students from Warsaw universities on the topic of ‘Refugee Crisis in the Middle East: Protracted and Precarious Situations of Palestine Refugees in Focus’, alongside representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Polish Institute of International Affairs and the University of Warsaw. This was a valuable opportunity to raise greater awareness of the current challenges facing Palestine refugees.

Mr. Krähenbühl and Ms. Wronecka formally opened the latest edition of ‘The Long Journey’, a photo and video exhibition that retraces the lives and history of Palestine refugees since 1948. They were joined by the Head of the European Commission representation in Poland, Dr. Marek Prawda; the Deputy Mayor of the City of Warsaw, Renata Kaznowska; and the Vice-Rector for Development of the University of Warsaw, Professor Anna Giza-Poleszczuk.

Regarding the ongoing partnership with UNRWA, Ms. Wronecka said, "I would like to express my high appreciation for the work of the Agency, who has been providing consistent support to Palestine refugees and delivering to them a measure of dignity, stability and self-reliance for more than 60 years now.”

"Poland is an important and growing partner demonstrating consistent solidarity with and support to Palestine refugees," said Mr. Krähenbühl. "We are thankful for the strong interest in the work of UNRWA and look forward to expanding our partnership in years to come.”

The exhibition will be on display at the new University of Warsaw Library until 12 February. The exhibition highlights the support provided by the European Union and its Member States such as Poland since 1971.

Poland is a regular donor to UNRWA. Since 2007, Polish contributions have totalled around EUR 2 million and have mainly focused on support for the delivery of complex assistance and services to Palestine refugees living in the Gaza Strip and suffering from the effects of the 10-year long blockade and repeated conflicts.

EU and UNRWA: Together for Palestine Refugees

Since 1971, the European Union and UNRWA have maintained a strategic partnership governed by the shared objective to support the human development, humanitarian and protection needs of Palestine refugees and promote stability in the Middle East. Today, the European Union is the largest multilateral provider of international assistance to Palestine refugees. This reliable and predictable support from the European Union enables UNRWA to provide core services to more than 5 million Palestine refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, including quality education for roughly half a million children and primary health care for more than 3.5 million patients.

Collectively, the EU and its Member States are also among the largest contributors to the Agency’s humanitarian emergency appeals and projects in response to various crises and specific needs across the region. The partnership between the European Union and UNRWA has allowed millions of Palestine refugees to be better educated, live healthier lives, access employment opportunities and improve their living conditions, thus contributing to the development of the entire region.

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
UNRWA launched the #DignityIsPriceless campaign in Gaza on 22 January 2018. © 2018 UNRWA Photo Rushdi Al Saraj
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