Supporting UNRWA and Protecting Palestinian Refugee Rights is a Priority

On August 26th, 2019 Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network Representatives met with both the Director of UNRWA Operations, West Bank Ms. Gwyn Lewis and senior advisor for political & local affairs Mr. Kazem Abu-Khalaf to discuss the challenges facing UNRWA with special focus on Palestinian Refugees in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.PNGO representatives expressed full support of UNRWA’s mandate and it very vital role in providing assistance and protection for Palestinian Refugees to achieve their full potential in human development.

In light of the temporary suspension of funding to UNRWA, PNGO stated that Palestinian Refugees must not suffer the consequences of such measures. If the UN office of International Oversight Services (OIOS) must complete their investigation unhindered and if it is found that actions need to be taken, they should be taken immediately. Humanitarian funding for UNRWA should not be politicized such as when the US completely cut their funding to UNRWA last year. Both UNRWA and PNGO discussed the negative impact of decrease of funding on the Agency’s services which encompass education, health care, relief and social services in addition to emergency assistance for Palestinian Refugees. UNRWA Director raised the issue in the current state of camp sanitation and infrastructure and inability to improve them with the scarcity of both human and financial resources. Palestinian Refugees should not pay the price of the suspension of funding; therefore protecting UNRWA and enable it to continue its functions is essential. PNGO calls upon Netherlands and Switzerland and Belgium to reconsider and revoke their decision in suspending funding, increase their contributions to UNRWA, and resist direct or indirect influence of campaigns that target the very existence of UNRWA and refugee rights. In addition, we call on the member states of the UN to continue their support to UNRWA by ensuring continued funding and renewing the mandate of UNRWA.