United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini and Director of West Bank Operations Gwyn Lewis, visited the eight Palestine refugee families at the center of the dispossession campaign by Israeli settler organizations in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
The refugee families threatened with imminent eviction, their second displacement in living memory, are part of a community of 28 families who have called the neighborhood home since 1954, following their forced displacement from and dispossession of their homes and lands in 1948.
The families reiterated the harassment they face from settler families in the presence of Israeli Security Forces. Further, entry to the neighbourhood has been blockaded by concrete barriers, restricting movement and prohibiting entry to anyone without registered residence within neighbourhood boundaries.
“The families I met in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem today live in the constant fear of being forcibly displaced and losing their homes,” said the UNRWA Commissioner-General. “They are also traumatized by the increased violence by settlers in the presence of the Israeli Security Forces. To prevent further escalations of tensions in West Bank, including in East Jerusalem, forced displacement and administrative demolitions, contrary to international law, should end.”
UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.
UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.
UNRWA encourages all Member States to work collectively to exert all possible efforts to fully fund the Agency’s programme budget. UNRWA emergency programmes and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight.
UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.