The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) warmly welcomed the decision by the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dated 2 March 2019 to establish and operationalize a Waqf endowment fund, in support of Palestine refugees. This represents a major milestone in the efforts to diversify funding sources in support of UNRWA.
The Waqf fund was first envisaged in a 2017 report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and announced at the OIC’s 7th Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference in Istanbul in May 2018. It primarily aims at sustaining and strengthening the life-saving services UNRWA provides to 5.4 million Palestine refugees in Gaza, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA will rely on this Waqf, housed within the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), to bolster its comprehensive human development programmes, which are recognized internationally for their long term impact, and their contribution to dignity and regional stability.
“This timely decision by the leaders and members of the OIC is a unique sign of solidarity with Palestine refugees,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl. “To be able to count on solid and predictable financial support such as the one promised by this Waqf is key to our ability to sustain the quality and scope of our services. I am immensely grateful to the Secretary-General of the OIC and Member States, as well as to the President of IsDB for this important achievement and trust,” he added.
Once the Waqf is activated, OIC member states and other countries, in addition to the private sector and individuals will be able to contribute to it through the IsDB, thus participating in the sustainability of UNRWA programmes and the predictability of the funding necessary for their implementation.