UNRWA Reaffirms Strong Partnership with the United Kingdom

07 December 2017

The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, has concluded a two-day visit to London in which he met the Secretary of State for International Development, the Right Honourable Penny Mordaunt MP, and the Minister of State for International Development and Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Right Honourable Alistair Burt MP. He also had a meeting in Parliament with the Leader of the Opposition, the Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn MP.

Commissioner-General Krähenbühl briefed his British counterparts on UNRWA’s work with over five million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East, including over half a million students attending some seven hundred UNRWA schools.

“It was important for me to come to London to reaffirm once more our essential partnership with the United Kingdom and thank its government, parliamentarians and the British people for their invaluable support”, said Mr. Krähenbühl. “With British funds, our services in education, health, relief and social services bring a sense of hope and preserve the rights and dignity of some of the most vulnerable people in Gaza, the West Bank, including East-Jerusalem, Jordan,Lebanon and Syria. Our human development work at a time of heightened conflict and refugee anxiety is of particular importance, providing a measure of stability in an increasingly uncertain Middle East.”

Mr. Krähenbühl addressed a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group chaired by the Right Honourable Richard Burden, MP, on the theme of “the Middle East in crisis: the search for the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees.” He also gave the main address at a meeting in Parliament of the Muslim Charities Forum convened by The Right Honourable Andrew Mitchell, MP, and Dr. Hany El-Banna the co-founder of Islamic Relief.

While in London the Commissioner-General delivered a lecture entitled “The Human Cost of Conflict: the Search for Dignity and Rights of Palestine Refugees” to over three hundred students at the London School of Economics, at the invitation of Professor Chetan Bhatt, Director of the LSE’s Centre for the Study of Human Rights. In rejecting the idea that war was inevitable, Mr. Krähenbühl made the case for humanitarian action and for conflict to be prevented rather than “managed”. He made a passionate plea for the protection of the rights of Palestine refugees and for the full respect of international humanitarian law.

Watch the LSE lecture

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
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 240 2659
Office: 
+972 (0)2 589 0267
Sami Mshasha
Chief of Communications, Arabic Language Spokesperson
Mobile: 
+972 (0)54 216 8295
Office: 
+972 (0)258 90724
Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
Help send a Palestine refugee child to school