The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini urgently called on rich Arab states to reinstate or increase their financial support as the Agency struggles to delivers on its mandate and to provide critical services to the Palestine refugees.
Speaking at the Arab League Summit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Lazzarini said, “Support to Palestine Refugees is a collective obligation, including from Arab countries. Longtime historic partners have decreased their funding in the last few years, dramatically affecting our ability to maintain quality services, including education, health care and social protection.”
“While countries hosting Palestine refugees face their own acute political and financial challenges, I am hereby calling on Arab donors to support UNRWA and be among our closest partners,” he added.
He continued, “Arab countries were among the founders of UNRWA and the most vocal supporters of the rights of Palestine Refugees. Today, as UNRWA risks collapse, I hear supportive statements from the region to Palestinians and urge that they be extended to the refugees through UNRWA.”
“While we are one of the largest UN agencies in the world, we live hand to mouth. At the end of every month, we often are uncertain whether we can pay salaries to our nearly 30,000 staff. UNRWA staff is the backbone and the engine of the Agency’s basic services: teachers, medical workers, engineers and logisticians. They should not live in constant uncertainty and limbo, and neither should the Palestine refugees they serve,” concluded Lazzarini.