UNRWA Commissioner-General visits Russia
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl made his first official visit to Russia this week in order to foster stronger strategic ties on behalf of the Agency.
During the visit, which lasted from 23 to 26 June, Mr. Krähenbühl met with Mr. Gennady Gatilov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Konstantin Kosachev, Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of the Federation Council, Mr. Serguey Vershinin, Director and Special Envoy for the Middle-East and North Africa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and several diplomatic representatives. In the meetings, Mr. Krähenbühl highlighted the extreme hardship facing Palestine refugees, particularly in Syria and Gaza.
“Palestine refugees have been among the hardest hit by the continued turmoil in the Middle East,” Mr. Krähenbühl said. “I am deeply grateful for Russia’s support to UNRWA’s determined response to the needs and advocacy for the rights of five million Palestine refugees in the region.”
The Commissioner-General also met with representatives from several Russian research institutions and media outlets, including the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Russia in Global Affairs and the Carnegie Foundation.
Mr Krähenbühl underlined the importance of further strengthening the relations with the Russian Federation and to seize opportunities for regular exchanges of views on trends and humanitarian priorities in the Middle-East. He also thanked the Russian government for its generous contribution to UNRWA at this critical time.
In 2015, Russia made a contribution of US$ 2 million to the UNRWA General Fund, matching their prior contribution from 2013. The funds will go towards supporting the Agency’s health, education and social services programmes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza.
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.
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