United Nations, Sep 27 : The UN agency that supports around 5.4 million Palestine refugees in the near east, continues to play “an essential role” and any attempts to limit its mandate “would be disruptive and costly”, the UN chief has warned.
Speaking at a Ministerial Meeting in support of UNRWA, Secretary-General António Guterres on Thursday said he had seen for himself many times, the “meaningful, positive difference” that the agency had made for decades “protecting and assisting millions of the most vulnerable”.
“And of course, UNRWA is a force for stability”, he reminded ministers. “I hesitate to imagine the enormous consequences if UNRWA was not able to operate – not only the profound humanitarian toll on people, but also the grave risks to peace and security in a volatile region.”
The withdrawal of more than $300 million by the US from its contribution towards UNRWA, provoked a funding crisis in August 2018, although many donors have upped their contributions to help bridge the gap. “This year, many of you have already matched or exceeded your generous contributions of 2018”, said Mr Guterres, but a $120 million shortfall remains, “and I strongly ask for your support to fill that gap.”
He said if the agency’s mandate was changed and limited when up for renewal in a few weeks’ time, it would be “host countries and the refugees themselves paying the highest price.” (UNi)