UNRWA is a UN agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.7 million Palestine refugees. (File photo)
Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Philip Lazzarini, said earlier this week that "there are no plans to delegate UNRWA's tasks to other parties, but the agency is facing a crisis in obtaining its needs."
Speaking at a joint press conference with the head of the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee, Lazzarini noted that "UNRWA is trying as much as possible to maintain the basic services it provides to Palestinian refugees", adding that more than 80 per cent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live below the poverty line.
The commissioner-general stressed the need to "work with perseverance so that the Agency does not reach the point where it is obliged to suspend its operations."
On Tuesday, Lazzarini told the UNRWA Advisory Committee during its meeting in Beirut that UNRWA and its senior management are subject to three sources of acute pressure: the lack of sufficient funding from member states to implement the General Assembly mandate, demands by some donors to amend UNRWA's operations and host countries and Palestine refugees who see any change in UNRWA's operations as a step towards infringing on refugees' rights and destroying UNRWA.
Lazzarini stressed that this is a very difficult period for UNRWA, and a very painful period for Palestine refugees, warning that the financial challenges faced by UNRWA may lead to a slow erosion or halt in the quality of its services.
On Tuesday, a two-day meeting of the UNRWA Advisory Committee began in Beirut with the participation of representatives of 28 donor states, in addition to three observers: Palestine, the Arab League and the European Union.