The international community has pledged more than $110 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
In a statement – a copy of which was sent to MEMO – UNRWA yesterday announced that at its annual Pledging Conference in New York “representatives of states and institutions unanimously commended the Agency’s role in preserving the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees”.
These representatives “praised [UNRWA] staff members for their commitment in support of the human development of 5.4 million Palestine refugees in the Near East,” the statement added.
During the conference, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl stated that “today, in New York, we witnessed another remarkable mobilisation and great generosity in support of UNRWA”.
“I am deeply grateful for the trust of United Nations (UN) member states for the pledges of more than US$110 million, and for the commitment to the dignity and rights of Palestine refugees.”
The Commissioner-General stressed that UNRWA’s current financial situation will be particularly challenging for emergency operations in the besieged Gaza Strip and war-torn Syria, as well as for UNRWA schools across the region.
He added that food for one million refugees in Gaza, but also essential cash assistance to over 400,000 people in Syria, will be severely affected if the Agency’s financial requirements for 2019 are not covered.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres added that “given what is at stake at the human level, at the political and security level, and at the multilateral level, we must rise to the challenge and empower UNRWA to continue its important and impressive work.”
UNRWA has been suffering severe cash shortages since the US announced last year that it would cease all financial assistance to the organisation. Though other countries have since increased their contributions to meet the shortfall, the agency has continued to struggle to meet its obligations.