The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Neat East (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl, has called on Arab states to provide urgent financial and political support for Palestine refugees and the agency’s work.
Addressing the 152nd session of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers at the Arab Summit, Krahenbuhl stressed that UNRWA’s work is vital, especially as there is no just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.
Krahenbuhl thanked member states for their support and asked them to show the same level of commitment to defending UNRWA as has been the case previously, particularly in the run-up to the renewal of the agency’s mandate in November.
“UNRWA is facing enormous political challenges,” Arab League Secretary-General Ahmad Aboul Gheit said. “I call on Member States to protect UNRWA funding and to ensure the smooth renewal of the Agency’s mandate.”
Running at an annual budget of $1.2 billion, UNRWA is mandated to serve 5.5 million Palestine refugees through the Agency’s education, health, social and protection services in its five areas of operations. In 2018, over eight million medical consultations were conducted in 143 UNRWA health centres.
“Over the last 18 months, we have witnessed severe attempts to delegitimize the Agency and what it does, either by questioning the very basis of our mandate or the definition of who we serve,” Krahenbuhl said. “Standing with UNRWA and its services in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan is paramount not only for the human development of Palestine refugees, but also for the preservation of regional stability.”