Dr. Ahmed Abu Holi, member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and head of the Refugee Affairs Department, urged donor countries participating in the Pledging Conference for UNRWA in New York to increase their financial support to bridge the funding gap faced by its regular and emergency budgets.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, on the eve of the Pledging Conference to support UNRWA at the United Nations headquarters in New York on June 2, Dr. Abu Holi warned of the ongoing financial crisis faced by UNRWA and some donor countries reducing their funding this year, which will directly impact the services provided to Palestinian refugees and the stability of the region.
Dr. Abu Holi stated, "The financial deficit in UNRWA's budget is significant and remains unresolved. The contributions made by donor countries to UNRWA are still insufficient." He pointed out that the regular and emergency budgets of UNRWA amount to $1.6 billion, while UNRWA has received $300 million, indicating that the deficit is still large. UNRWA needs $1.3 billion to meet the growing needs of refugees and achieve its strategic objectives in improving the quality of its educational, health, and relief services, as well as enhancing the salary scale of its employees.
He continued, "We want to hear from the Pledging Conference, in which the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Chaba Krossi, and the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, will participate, a practical translation of what we heard and saw in the Security Council session on May 25, 2023, in terms of strong political support for UNRWA and demands from member states for adequate and sustainable funding. We need a financial translation by announcing the provision of sufficient and sustainable financial support to cover the funding gap and enable UNRWA to provide its services to Palestinian refugees in its five operational areas."
He emphasized, "Palestinian refugees will not wait long in the face of worsening living conditions, food insecurity, and widespread poverty within the camps. Their patience is wearing thin as they witness their children dying of hunger."
Dr. Abu Holi also warned of the danger of Palestinian refugees losing their trust in the international community, which bears the responsibility of supporting UNRWA and continuing its services until their return to the homes they were displaced from in 1948.
He stressed the need to secure adequate and sustainable funding for UNRWA, which represents the real guarantee for its continued provision of vital services to Palestinian refugees. He called on the United Nations to immediately implement its decision and announce, through the Pledging Conference, an increase in UNRWA's allocations in the regular budget of the United Nations.
He also urged financially capable Arab countries to renew their support for UNRWA and increase their funding, reaching the approved contribution percentage of the Arab League, which is estimated at 7.8% of UNRWA's general budget. He also called on countries that have reduced their funding to reconsider their decision.