**Ahead of mandate renewal, allies of UN Agency for Palestine Refugees seek to turn resounding political support into sustainable funding **
Ahead of UNRWA mandate renewal later this year, Jordan and Sweden co-hosted a meeting in the presence of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly to explore lasting solutions for closing the chronic funding gap of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
"For too long, the international community's approach to UNRWA has been marred by a mismatch between words and deeds. UNRWA is a safety-net for the most vulnerable, a source of stability in the region and a lifeline of hope and opportunity for millions. We continue however to have UNRWA remain trapped in financial limbo. It is past time to match overwhelming support for the mandate with more sustainable and predictable funding for its operations. Let us help UNRWA help Palestine refugees. Let us invest in peace, stability and hope," **said the UN Secretary General António Guterres. **
UNRWA is the UN agency charged by the General Assembly to provide essential services, including education and primary health care to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Despite longstanding and abundant political support from the international community, UNRWA continues to face severe funding shortages. In addition to operating more than 700 schools and 144 health-care facilities in the region, UNRWA provides cash and food assistance, housing, and water and sanitation.
Earlier this month, more than half a million children returned to UNRWA schools across the region, an island of hope and for many a sanctuary away from violence and turbulence. UNRWA is the only UN agency in the world that runs a school system. All of this would not have been possible without consistent support from committed Member States and donors.
"I am grateful to the host nations and Member States for their engagement in support of the Agency and for their determination to enable UNRWA to fulfill its mission," said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. "Jordan and Sweden, in particular, have gone above and beyond to enlist the continued commitment of the international community for the Agency and the refugees we support. The chronic financial shortfall of UNRWA is political by nature and can only be addressed through political will. I welcome today a renewed momentum to find lasting funding solutions, in line with the UN Secretary General 2017 report, to enable UNRWA to fully implement its mandate".
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 with a mandate to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestine refugees in the Agency's area of operations, namely the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Thousands of Palestine refugees who lost both their homes and livelihood because of the 1948 conflict have remained displaced and in need of significant support for over seventy years. UNRWA helps them achieve their full potential in human development through quality services it provides in education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions.
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