UN chief praises impact of Palestine refugee agency as ‘our common success’, at key pledging conference

UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan Palestinian boys raise their hands during one of the first classes of the new academic year, at a school in Gaza supported by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The work of the UN body responsible for assisting Palestine refugees, UNRWA, which has allowed millions of children to receive an education that promotes UN values of human rights and tolerance, as well as democracy and conflict resolution, should be viewed “not only as our common responsibility, but as our common success”, said Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday.

The UN chief was speaking at the opening of the 2019 pledging conference for UNRWA, officially the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, alongside the President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, and the agency’s Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl.

Mr. Guterres vaunted the accomplishments of the agency over its almost 70-year existence. As well as running more than 700 schools, providing free education for over half a million Palestine refugee children, UNRWA maintains high-quality and cost-effective health care services; runs emergency and social services; and provides food aid, which includes meeting the needs of one million Palestine refugees in Gaza.

‘Cost-effective’ aid for Palestine refugees faces ‘serious funding shortfall’

The presence of conference delegates in New York, sent a powerful message that they are convinced of UNRWA’s value, and that they are willing to act, by pledging generous donations to allow the agency to carry on its vital work, said Ms. Espinosa.

The General Assembly President warned that the agency was $211 million short of the $1.2 billion needed to deliver its aid programmes. She went on to ask delegates to consider the consequences of a failure to meet the funding requirements, for “half a million boys and girls, for 5.4 million refugees, for the wider region and for the world.”

Mr. Krähenbühl explained that, in the absence of new contributions, the funding gap will rise throughout the year, adding that it is “absolutely crucial” to open schools on time in August and September, and to avoid a break-down of the agency’s food pipeline for a million people in Gaza.

The head of UNRWA reminded delegates that the agency’s work takes place against a backdrop of “psychosocial trauma resulting from years of conflict, blockade and violence”, where the lives of Palestine refugees are defined in every aspect by occupation, “from home demolitions and forced evictions, to lack of freedom of movement and violence.”

Echoing these remarks, the Secretary-General underscored the efficiency of UNRWA operations, stressing the “extraordinary reform and cost-control measures to reduce inefficient spending.” Thanks to these measures, he said, UNRWA has saved $500 million. The international community, Mr. Guterres continued, must “rise to the challenge”, so that UNRWA can continue its “important and impressive work.”

UNRWA schools provide ‘hope for a better future’

Following the remarks from the senior UN officials, Hanan Abu Asbeh and Hatem Hamdouna, teenage students from the West Bank and Gaza, elected to represent 536,000 UNRWA students from Gaza and the West Bank, spoke of their daily experiences, and the importance of UNRWA schools in their lives.

Hanan, who said that she had “led a life of suffering”, hearing the sounds of explosions and bullets in the streets, expressed her hope that schools will open on time this year. She said that for some children, the end of the school year meant long holidays, free from the classroom. For Palestinian refugee children however, it is “not fun”, she said, because education is the most important thing they have.

Although he is only fifteen, Hatem has already lived through three wars, and he told the delegates that, although “scenes of war and destruction are still in my head, and haunt me in my sleep”, an UNRWA education has been his only hope for a better future, and allowed him to learn about his rights, even in the darkest times.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The Japanese have a word to help them be less wasteful – ‘mottainai’

Commission adopts €70 million package for early access to EU COVID-19 vaccines in the Western Balkans

Who holds the key to the future of biotechnology? You do

UN rights chief bemoans unilateral sanctions on Venezuela, fearing ‘far-reaching implications’

Aid used for trade is helping developing countries diversify

OECD leading multilateral efforts to address tax challenges from digitalisation of the economy

UN rights expert calls for end to ‘purgatory’ of ‘international inaction’ facing Myanmar’s remaining Rohingya

Trump wants to implicate China in US attacks against global order

Is “Sustainable Development” a concept that integrates Health Literacy and Health Policy as a global health action?

With science ‘held back by a gender gap’, Guterres calls for more empowerment for women and girls

Human Rights Council election: 5 things you need to know about it

EU budget: Boosting cooperation between tax and customs authorities for a safer and more prosperous EU

Eurozone plans return to growth

Climate change update: consistent global actions urgently needed as we are running out of time

Fair completion rules and the law of gravity don’t apply to banks

Eurozone very close to a sustainable growth path

FROM THE FIELD: For refugees and migrants in Europe, healthcare’s essential but a challenge to find

Coronavirus: Commission receives first preliminary application for support from the EU Solidarity Fund for health emergency from Italy

On Human Rights Day European Youth Forum calls for end to discrimination of young people

With Gaza violence ‘escalating as we speak,’ UN envoy calls for ‘immediate stop’

Suffering of thousands of war-affected Syrian children ‘unprecedented and unacceptable’

#TwitterisblockedinTurkey and so is Erdogan

Ukraine: €8 million in humanitarian aid to withstand winter

‘Agile’, multilateral response vital to combat terrorism – UN chief Guterres

5 facts you might not know about why forest biodiversity matters

Recovery and Resilience Facility: Belgium, Italy, Austria, and Slovenia submit official recovery and resilience plans

Australia wants to build a giant underground ‘battery’ to help power the nation

Commission proposes to top up support for refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey

Four things workers want implemented by their bosses post-pandemic

Industrial price dive may lead to point of no return

5 creative alternatives to plastic packaging

FROM THE FIELD: Malawi farmers diversify to fight climate change

The JADE Spring Meeting is about to begin

Boris to end up in jail if he loses the next elections?

6 ways to ensure AI and new tech works for – not against – humanity

Pushing for tax fairness in a digital world

‘Global clarion call’ for youth to shape efforts to forge peace in the most dangerous combat zones

Global health challenges require global medical students

Safer products: EP and Council close deal to beef up checks and inspections

Nagasaki is ‘a global inspiration’ for peace, UN chief says marking 73rd anniversary of atomic bombing

Investing in nature gives industry and business a competitive advantage. Here’s why

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Climate-proofing Timor-Leste

UNICEF warns of ‘lost generation’ of Rohingya youth, one year after Myanmar exodus

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

EU allocates over €43 million in humanitarian aid to South Sudan

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

UN rights office calls on Zimbabwe Government to end ‘crackdown’ in response to fuel protests

1 in 13 young British people have PTSD. Here’s why

The blackened white coat of the doctors

The clothes of the future could be made from pineapples and bananas

COVID-19: Team Europe supports African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to access finance through digital technology

Christine Lagarde: the three priorities for the global economy

“Asia-Pacific takes stock of ambitious development targets”, written by the Heads of UNFPA and ESCAP

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

End fossil fuel subsidies, and stop using taxpayers’ money to destroy the world: Guterres

Youth not prioritised in new Commission

State aid: Commission approves €286 million Finnish measure to recapitalise Finnair

A bad marriage can be as unhealthy as smoking and drinking

Coronavirus Global Response: Commission joins the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX)

Eurozone’s sovereign debt not a problem anymore?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s