UN Official: Desperation Mounting among Palestinian Refugees

UN Official: Desperation Mounting among Palestinian Refugees

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, warned that Palestinian refugees are grappling with increased hardship and life-threatening socio-economic challenges.

Lazzarini’s statements came as he concluded a three-day visit to Berlin (17-20 October).

During his stay, Lazzarini held meetings with senior officials of the Foreign Office, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Chancellery, and key Members of Parliament.

He also took part in the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum of the Koerber Foundation with high-level politicians, government representatives and experts to discuss the foreign policy challenges for Germany and Europe and the impact on the operations of UNRWA across its five areas of operations.

“Desperation is mounting, especially among young people across the Middle East. They are confronted with poverty, unemployment, and a general lack of prospect. Some are risking their lives in search of a more dignified life”, said Lazzarini.

Despite chronic underfunding and a very challenging context under which the Agency operates, UNRWA continues to deliver assistance and services against all odds. It is a key contributor to stability and development in the region. It is thanks to the strong support of donors like Germany that UNRWA can deliver core services to Palestine refugees,” the Commissioner-General said.

Lazzarini added: “The sharp increase in the cost of food and commodities is plunging Palestine refugees in the region into deeper poverty. In Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, over 80 percent live below the poverty line”.

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 programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.

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