UN Official: Campaigns to Erode Rights of Palestine Refugees Increasing

UN Official: Campaigns to Erode Rights of Palestine Refugees Increasing

Philippe Lazzarini UNRWA Commissioner-General © UNRWA photo.

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, warned of ongoing attempts to dismantle the Agency and negate Palestinian refugees’ right of return to their homeland.

“Coordinated campaigns by organizations that aim to delegitimize and defund the Agency and erode the rights of Palestine refugees have increased in frequency and aggressivity”, said Lazzarini.

“During my many meetings with refugees and staff in the five fields of UNRWA operations over the last months, I have witnessed increased disarray and frustration, which sometimes has turned into anger”, said Lazzarini in a message to Palestine refugees. “This year, a very harsh winter and the impact of the war in Ukraine on prices of food and fuel in the region add to the daily hardship you are facing.

“I witnessed this firsthand few days ago, when I met with Palestine refugees in Khan Danoun Camp and Yarmouk in Syria. Many refugees shared with me their struggle to meet their basic needs and how the socio-economic situation compels them to return to live in the midst of the rubble in Yarmouk”.

Lazzarini expressed his deep concern about the deteriorating security situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. “And I am acutely aware that recovery from the latest conflict in Gaza is progressing much more slowly than anticipated.”

He said that in Lebanon, the desperation of Palestine refugees remains acute as many see no end to the unprecedented economic and financial crisis the country is going through.

“Standing on the edge of a cliff is distressing for everyone: primarily the refugees, but also the UNRWA staff and the hosts”, added UNRWA chief. “The painful reality is that in the last ten years, and despite immense outreach and fundraising efforts, the resources available to UNRWA have stagnated, while the needs of Palestine refugees and cost of operations keep increasing.”

In his view, the now chronic underfunding of UNRWA is the result of a combination of shifting geopolitical priorities, new regional dynamics and the emergence of new humanitarian crises compounded by donor fatigue for one of the world’s longest unresolved conflicts. All these have led to a clear de-prioritization of the Palestinian issue, including most recently among some donors from the Arab region.

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