UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini meets up with Palestine refugee youth outside the UNRWA Boys’ School in Balata refugee camp in Nablus in the northern West Bank on 26 January 2021. (UNRWA Photo)
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) plays a vital and irreplaceable role for the Palestinian refugee communities across the region, said the Agency’s Commissioner-General.
Addressing the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee last week, the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said: “In this highly unstable environment, where poverty and despair are high, Palestine refugee communities long for a sense of normality, safety and stability. Only a strong UNRWA can provide these.”
Lazzarini said that “UNRWA services are a lifeline for many deprived Palestine refugees. The feeling of safety that these services give contribute to giving refugees, especially young people, a sense of hope”.
“Every year over half a million children learn in UNRWA schools. The World Bank and UNHCR have praised the quality of our education and UNRWA students outperform their peers attending public school”, added Lazzarini.
“Second, in a region rife with violence, UNRWA education is an antidote to hatred and intolerance. For over 20 years, UNRWA has injected UN principles and human rights, tolerance and peaceful conflict- resolution education into its teaching”.
According to the UN official, UNRWA is the only steady source of support for 2.4 million Palestine refugees across the region.
“Since 2018, UNRWA has faced growing attacks from politically motivated pressure groups on its education programme aiming at delegitimizing the Agency and erode the rights of Palestine refugees”, he added.
Lazzarini further stated that “harming UNRWA will not erase 5,7 million Palestine refugees. Palestine refugees’ rights are enshrined in international law and UN Resolutions”.