UNRWA COMMISSIONER-GENERAL PIERRE KRÄHENBÜHL ADDRESSES THE 152ND SESSION OF THE COUNCIL OF ARAB FOREIGN MINISTERS IN CAIRO. 2019 UNRWA PHOTO
The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Neat East (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl, has urgently called on Arab states for their continued financial and political support to Palestine refugees and to the work of the Agency at the Arab League Summit.
Addressing the 152nd session of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers, kick-started on Tuesday in Cairo, Krähenbühl highlighted that the work of UNRWA remains vital, especially as long as there is no just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestine refugees.
He called on member states of the League of Arab States for to show the same level of commitment to defending UNRWA as has been the case in all previous years, particularly in the run-up to the renewal of the Agency’s mandate in November.
Krähenbühl reiterated the Agency’s gratitude to members of the League of Arab States for their outstanding support in 2018; the most financially challenging year since UNRWA was created in 1949. Krähenbühl also reminded them that the crisis is neither resolved nor was it simply financial in nature.
“Over the last eighteen months, we have witnessed severe attempts to delegitimize the Agency and what it does, either by questioning the very basis of our mandate or the definition of who we serve,” said Krähenbühl. “Standing with UNRWA and its services in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan is paramount not only for the human development of Palestine refugees, but also for the preservation of regional stability.”
Running at an annual budget of US$ 1.2 billion, UNRWA is mandated to serve 5.5 million Palestine refugees through the Agency’s education, health, social and protection services in five areas of operations.
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 program budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.