UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini meets with Republic of Korea Foreign Minister, Park Jin in Seoul. (Photo: UNRWA)
Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, concluded his first official visit to the Republic of Korea on 6 October.
During the two-day visit, Lazzarini engaged with high-level government officials and representatives from civil society to further solidify the growing partnership between UNRWA and Korea, and to raise awareness about the situation of Palestine Refugees in the Middle East.
The Republic of Korea has over the years steadily increased its support to the Agency. Financial contributions from South Korea directly supported education, primary health care and humanitarian assistance to millions of Palestine refugees across the Near East.
During his stay in Seoul, Commissioner-General Lazzarini met Foreign Minister, Park Jin, and other senior officials to discuss the financial and operational challenges of the Agency's in providing critical services to Palestine refugees as well as ways to strengthen the partnership between UNRWA and the Republic of Korea.
Throughout the meetings, the Agency’s contribution to the well-being of millions of Palestine Refugees, as well as regional peace and stability, was reiterated.
Reaffirming Korea’s resolute support and renewed commitment to UNRWA, Foreign Minister Park Jin pledged to continue to support to the Agency with a particular focus on intensifying UNRWA-Korean cooperation in education, vocational training and job opportunities. Looking ahead to Korea’s upcoming two-year term in the UN Security Council, Foreign Minister Park Jin reiterated Korea’s firm diplomatic support to UNRWA, acknowledging the strong synergy between UNRWA’s mandate and Korea’s foreign policy priority to play a constructive role in safeguarding global peace and stability.
Commissioner-General Lazzarini also met with Chang Won Sam, President of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) to discuss programmatic collaboration over the years. They agreed to expand their collaboration to promote youth employment in a region hit by skyrocketing unemployment rates.
Lazzarini also met with former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future, and the Secretary General for the Korea Arab Society, to discuss engagement with the private sector as well as increase UNRWA presence in Korea.
Concluding his two-day visit, Lazzarini said: “The warm welcome and positive reception I received during my first official visit to Seoul gave me great confidence that our engagement with institutional and private partners in the Republic of Korea will continue to grow. It is reassuring for Palestine Refugees to know that they continue receiving support from near and far, that their stories and achievements are known and the role of UNRWA acknowledged and strengthened.”
The rights and well-being of Palestine Refugees as well as the sustained access to education and primary health care were at the center of the discussions over the course of the two-day visit, especially as the Agency is soon to mark 75 years since its establishment. The mission to Seoul is part of UNRWA’s targeted efforts to diversify and solidify its outreach and partnerships into Asia.