Commissioner General for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl said the State of Qatar and Kuwait among others, made generous donations to UNRWA in 2018, enabling the agency to keep its 58 camps open to Palestinian refugees, and called for continued generosity.
This came during the opening of the 152nd Session of the Arab League Council at the Ministerial Level, which began earlier yesterday.
Krahenbul said that there was an unprecedented campaign against the agency to delegitimise the Palestinian refugee issue, calling for an easy renewal of UNRWA’s mandate by the UN General Assembly.
He added that he has never seen this fierce targeting towards any humanitarian organisation nor the denial of the rights of an entire refugee community.
Krahenbul said UNRWA crisis is not over yet, despite international efforts to counter US funding cuts.
He added that some are trying to dismantle the refugee issue, although the international community has preserved its recognition of refugees in numerous international resolutions. He added that the biggest misrepresentation is to repeat that Palestinian refugees are the only refugees in the world whose descendants are refugees.
He said that under international law and the principle of family unity, children and children of any refugee, whether Afghan, Somali or Congolese, are considered refugees provided by the UN, which is not limited to the Palestinians.
He said that the attacks on the agency were aimed at erasing the idea of a two-state solution and the Arab Peace Initiative.
He added that the UN agency operations in Jerusalem are under constant pressure and face ongoing interventions from the Israeli municipality, and the Israeli entity’s challenge to the activities of a UN-mandated agency is an attempt to annex East Jerusalem and is illegal under international law.
Krahenbul said that standing by UNRWA in Jerusalem is of utmost importance and is a key measure to protect human dignity and maintain stability.
He added that despite the challenges, thanks to the participation of host country partners, in particular with the contribution of Jordan and the support of Palestine and Lebanon, the agency has been able to make progress.
Pierre Krahenbuhl called for ensuring the same support for the agency in 2019, and that the Agency’s course in the coming years should be adequately protected, noting that UNRWA’s budget was $1.2bn for all its activities and it had reduced the funding shortfall from $211mn to $120mn.
Qatar’s delegation to 152nd Session of the Arab League Council at the Ministerial Level is headed by HE the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan bin Saad al-Muraikhi.
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