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UNRWA makes $77 million appeal to sustain its services

‘UN agency is safe and is here to stay’

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Nov 14,2017 - Last updated at Nov 14,2017

UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl addresses stakeholders at the Dead Sea on Monday (Photo courtesy of UNRWA)

DEAD SEA — United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl on Monday urged governments, donors and stakeholders to “keep on supporting UNRWA in completing its mission”, highlighting that the agency is still lacking $77 million to complete its activities planned for this year. 

The remarks came during a press briefing held on the sidelines of the agency’s Advisory Commission’s meeting at the Dead Sea, to which the official referred as a “great opportunity to discuss our financial situation, where we stand now, and what are the actions that we can take”.

“After this meeting, I expect our members to come forward with additional support, as it is vital to continue improving the situation of the Palestinian refugees, and we cannot accomplish our mission without them,” Krahenbuhl stated. 

“I have spoken to the refugees, and they all told me the same thing. They complain that this is not enough, that the situation is not improving — I do acknowledge that, and thus I want to take the opportunity here to remind everyone that the refugees shall not be forgotten, and it is our responsibility to stand together to ensure their well-being,” expressed the official. 

Furthermore, Krahenbuhl reminded the attendees that a total of 167 countries voted last year in favour of extending UNWRA’s mandate to the next three years, stressing the “strong political message that these countries delivered with their vote”.

“Refugees can rest assured that our mandate is safe and is here to stay, and we are determined to improve the quality and quantity of our services despite the many challenges,” continued the official. 

Krahenbuhl took the opportunity to praise Jordan’s efforts on the refugee crisis, expressing that “UNWRA’s partnership with Jordan is one of the most important throughout the whole Arab region, and it would not have been the same without their support”.

A member of the audience raised the issue of UNWRA’s staff complains about the working conditions, to which the official replied that the agency is “prepared to sit down with them, listen to their concerns and find solutions”, adding that “the dialogue with the staff is a very important part of UNWRA’s work”.

Regarding the neutrality issue, Krahenbuhl clarified that “absolutely all members of UNRWA — including myself — sign a contract [which prohibits]involvement in political activities, due to our commitment to maintaining good relationships with all UN member countries and our need to keep our work inside the humanitarian field”.

Jordan is the largest host of Palestinian refugees, where more than 2 million registered refugees live, according to UNRWA data, out of 5 million who are eligible for the agency’s services in five countries in the region. 

Most Palestine refugees in Jordan enjoy full citizenship. There are 10 recognised Palestine refugee camps throughout the country, which accommodate nearly 370,000 Palestine refugees, or 18 per cent of the country total.

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