UN Event to Mark 75 years on Nakba, Message from UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini

15 May 2023

15 May 2023 (video recording)

Today, the UN General Assembly marks   75 years since more than 700,000 Palestinians were displaced due to the 1948 war: 

Entire families, grandmothers and grandfathers, mothers and fathers, and many children were fleeing their homes in search of safety.  

Many walked for days on end, with few belongings and their house keys. 

For many of them, that day was the beginning of a very, very long journey of waiting and uncertainty. 

In full acknowledgement of the right of Palestine Refugees to protection and assistance, UNRWA was established in 1950 to continue vital work that other relief partners started in 1948. 

 Today is also, a day to highlight how, collectively the UN and its partners have made a difference in the lives of Palestine Refugees. 

Over the years, more than 2 million girls and boys have graduated from UNRWA schools. 

We have greatly improved basic health, with universal vaccination and excellent mother and child healthcare. 

It is our obligation and our duty at the United Nations to help those impacted by crisis and those in need.  

Palestine Refugees are no different.  

We have to continue to support them until a just solution is finally found to their plight. 

In addition to direct assistance, UNRWA is the custodian of records and memories for Palestine Refugees. 

We use an application that gives refugees access to their records online. And anyone can see photos of this work over the years in the  Historic UNRWA Film and Photo Archive.   

The plight of Palestine Refugees remains the longest unresolved refugee crisis in the world.  

More than ever, they require our collective solidarity.

However,  the serious financial crisis that UNRWA has been facing for more than a decade, risks undoing  progress made in human development for millions of Palestine Refugees. 

As my colleagues and I pursue all avenues to put the Agency on a sustainable financial footing, let me reiterate that UNRWA is not the solution.  

There simply is no alternative to a political solution for all.

Until such a day, there is no alternative to UNRWA.