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European parliament vote and support of Palestinian refugees

October 25, 2021 at 2:17 pm

Palestinian children take part in a four-week summer activities programme organised by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza 8 July 2021 [SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images]

The European Parliament’s vote in favour of a recommendation to raise the annual support provided to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) will positively reflect on the outcomes of the international donors’ conference for UNRWA resource mobilisation.  This will be held under the co-chairmanship of Jordan and Sweden in November in the Belgian capital, Brussels. It will encourage donors to sign multi-year agreements with UNRWA to achieve sustainable and viable funding.

This important European position reaffirms the importance of the European Union’s role in making peace and ending the occupation. We welcome the European Parliament’s vote in favour of increasing its funding to UNRWA to 142 million Euros, an estimated increase of 55 million Euros annually for 2022, instead of 92 million euros in 2021. We also welcome its refusal to link support to amending the Palestinian curriculum, although the occupation authorities have long demanded to impose this position, which goes against facts and reality.

By adopting this position, the European Union strengthens its position after Parliament approved the decision to increase UNRWA’s allocations by 521 votes in Parliament, against 88 votes in opposition and 84 abstentions. This is a live expression of the EU’s commitment to continue its political and financial support of the UNRWA, and a message confirming the important role played by the UNRWA through its educational, health and social services to more than 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operation. It also highlights its role in promoting sustainable human development and in promoting regional stability. This is a win for the Palestinian people and a renewed confirmation that the representatives of the European nations uphold the values of truth, justice, equality and freedom and reject the policies of exploitation, falsification and racism practiced by the occupation government against the Palestinian people. This is done though the Israeli lobby’s attempts to incite the European Parliament to stop aid to the Palestinian people, especially to the education sector and the UNRWA.

READ: Palestinians reject attempts to politicise UNRWA

The EU plays an important role in the development process of the Palestinian people, as it is one of the major donors to UNRWA. It is the second largest funder of UNRWA’s budget and a supporter of its work in providing its humanitarian services to Palestinian refugees, until a just solution to their issues is found in accordance with UN resolutions. This is especially so, since the EU has contributed in past years to helping the UNRWA to overcome its financial crises by providing additional funding to its budget.

The donor and funding countries of UNRWA must fulfil their financial pledges, raise the ceiling of their contributions and donate additional funding to achieve the financial stability of the UNRWA budget for the year 2021, in order to prevent new crises affecting its services provided to Palestinian refugees. It must also do so in order to enable it to continue to provide its services and continue paying the salaries of its employees. A comprehensive strategy must be developed to deal with the issue of Palestinian refugees in the various capitals of the Diaspora, to meet their humanitarian needs, away from the interventions of the occupation and its attempts to influence the international position.

The UNRWA, undoubtedly, plays a prominent role through the services it provides to protect refugees and preserve their dignity in light of the difficult conditions in the region and in light of the occupation ignoring their legitimate rights, including their inalienable right to return in accordance with international law and Resolution 194, in particular. The position of the representatives in the European Parliament is on the right track in supporting the role of the UNRWA, which deals with the Palestinian refugee affairs and is responsible for supporting Palestinian refugees in their temporary places of asylum until they return to their homeland.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 25 October 2021

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.