UNRWA was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians had been expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. (File photo)
The Secretary-General of the United Nations will keep up strong support for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
In his press briefing dating January 6, Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General said: “Our support, full support, strong support, for UNRWA continues”.
His comments came in response to a question on UNRWA’s failure to pay the salaries at the end of December because of the shortages of funds.
Asked whether he read a report by The Guardian saying that United Arab Emirates is working with Israel to dismantle UNRWA, the Spokesman said: “Our call for UNRWA to be fully funded also continues, and the Secretary‑General, in partnership with Mr. [Philippe] Lazzarini, will continue to ask Member States to fund the vital work that UNRWA provides in the region”.
Dujarric received another question about “the level of oppression that the occupied Palestinian territories have been witnessing in this transition period between the departure of Mladenov and the incoming Special Coordinator….Israel had been invading villages. They have been confiscating land. They have been destroying homes. They entered forcefully the hospital in Tulkarem. Yesterday, they shot and killed a civilian near Bethlehem. They let him bleed to death in front of the cameras”.
“Look, the… while Mr. Mladenov is no longer the head, as you know, we’ve named a new head of UNSCO (United Nations Special Coordinator’s Office). The Office continues. Its work continues, and I can assure you that, in the next report to the Security Council, the Special Coordinator will report fully on what he has observed and what he has… his office has seen”.
By the end of December, French newspaper Le Monde reported that Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been working together to eliminate UNRWA without solving the issue of Palestinian refugees,
According to Le Monde, this process has been underway since Israel and the UAE announced normalisation between the two countries in August.
According to the report, Emirati officials are weighing up a plan to gradually eliminate UNRWA, without making it conditional on a resolution of the refugee issue. This is despite the UAE having been a major funder of UNRWA in 2018 and 2019, along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to offset US President Donald Trump's halting of funds to the agency, which had brought it to the verge of bankruptcy.
UNRWA was established 70 years ago to supply aid to Palestinian refugees and its mandate is renewed every three years. UNRWA says that the services it provides would otherwise not be available to Palestinians.
The agency was set up in the years after more than 700,000 Palestinians had been expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel. It provides schooling and medical services to millions of impoverished refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as the Palestinian territories.