Commissioner-General’s statement: Special Political and Decolonization Committee
New York, 9 November 2018
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to present my annual report to the General Assembly on UNRWA’s work for Palestine refugees in the Near East.
As per established practice, while the written report before you describes trends and events in 2017, my presentation will update you about significant developments in 2018.
It all started with Baraka. In 2014, Taghrid Azzam took out a microfinance loan with UNRWA to buy a cow. She was named Baraka, or blessing. “She showered us with blessings,” the farmer from Sweida says. Taghrid started selling Baraka’s milk and applied for another loan and then another loan, to buy a second cow. “After taking out two more loans I also sold a calf. With the assistance of UNRWA, I was able to buy a third cow!” Four years and five loans later, she owns four cows, all of whom are pregnant, making her well on her way to her dream of owning a large farm.
Today the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the German Ambassador inaugurated the UNRWA Talbieh Elementary and Preparatory Girls’ School after the completion of reconstruction work on the school structure. The ceremony also marked hand-over of rehabilitated shelters to the most vulnerable families in Talbieh refugee camp.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) organized an olive picking event last Thursday in solidarity with Palestine refugee farmers in the village of Beit Surik, located north of Jerusalem. Beit Surik is surrounded on almost sides by illegal Israeli settlements. After the construction of the Barrier, Beit Surik residents were confronted by checkpoints, limiting access for some 5,000 residents. Movement restrictions and the Barrier have shattered the economy of this formerly prosperous area.
Palestine refugee students return to school across Syria
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has signed the first multi-year agreement with Indonesia’s national Zakat agency, BAZNAS. The agreement marks an important partnership for the Agency in promoting its #DignityIsPriceless Campaign and narrowing the gap of its unprecedented financial crisis.
Zahra Ma’touq walks between the desks while 30 girls and boys look up at her adoringly. She bends over a desk to correct a notebook here, calmly walks over to answer a question there. Like her students, Zahra is a little nervous, and excited - his is her first day too. However, teaching at the Yarmouk school in Qabr Essit was also a homecoming. Zahra used to be a student here. “This was my classroom when I was in first grade,” she smiles. “When I came back I was flooded with memories!”
Once a successful business owner, Abdallah Mohammed lived surrounded by his family in Yarmouk refugee camp. Conflict has ravaged Syria in recent years and Abdallah lost his home, shops and family as a result of the unrest. At the age of 68, Abdallah is now scrambling to find a job to support himself. During these dark times, UNRWA has been a steady source of sustenance.
On 28 September, violence in Gaza led to the death of seven Palestinians including two children, one of whom was an UNRWA student. This latest death brings to 13 the total number of UNRWA students who have been killed since 30 March 2018 in the context of the so-called “Great March of Return” demonstrations near the fence separating Israel and the Gaza Strip. Many other children enrolled in UNRWA schools have been wounded in the demonstrations.
UNRWA expresses its concern about recent statements made by the Mayor of Jerusalem on its operations and installations in East-Jerusalem.
UNRWA conducts humanitarian operations in conformity with the UN Charter, bilateral and multilateral agreements that continue in force, and relevant General Assembly resolutions.
Today, on World Teacher’s Day, the UNRWA Education Programme officially launches its new in-service Newly-Appointed Teachers (NAT) programme, which will replace the current Education Psychology (EP) in-service training programme. NAT is for those newly-appointed UNRWA teachers who have no professional formal teacher training before joining UNRWA.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) organized a Back to School ceremony to celebrate support from the State of Qatar. The US$ 50 million contribution to the Agency’s education programme in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank was a vital component in the decision to open UNRWA schools without delay this August. The ceremony, held at the UNRWA Baqa’a Basic Boys’ School, affirms the importance of the right to education for Palestine refugees in the presence of the Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) Managing Director H.E. Mr.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today decided to temporarily withdraw part of its international staff from Gaza following a series of worrying security incidents affecting its personnel in the Strip. The Director of Operations and other international staff will remain. UNRWA operations continue in Gaza.
On 27 September, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Sweden, Turkey, Japan and Germany, as well as the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Union, hosted a Ministerial Meeting in New York, with the aim of mobilising financial and political support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north-west
17 September 2018
On 17 September, Kasih Foods, one of the largest food production companies in the Middle East, announced its intention to make a significant donation to UNRWA’s “Dignity is Priceless” campaign in support of Palestine refugees following the US decision to discontinue funding the agency.
“As a father, I knew we had to get involved to help protect education for Palestine refugee children,” said Mr. Khaled Kasih, General Manager of the Kasih Food Production Company.
The Government of Belgium has made an additional contribution of EUR 4 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support its core educational services. This generous contribution was announced on 27 June at the UN General Assembly in New York and comes at a critical time for UNRWA, which is currently facing an unprecedented funding shortfall, threatening the ability of the Agency to sustain its core services including education.
On 8 September, the Government of Malaysia launched a national fundraising campaign to support Palestine refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The campaign aims to mobilize resources for UNRWA at a time when the Agency faces an unprecedented financial crisis after the United States, a leading supporter of the Agency announced its decision to no longer fund the Agency.
Friday, September 7, 2018
In 2017, UNRWA with support from UNICEF planned to strengthen its support to young Palestine refugees (PRs) in Lebanon. This support is articulated in the strategic framework below and reflects the views and needs of Palestine refugee youth in Lebanon.
UNRWA responds to humanitarian crisis in Dera’a: