Friday, October 30, 2020

Vote to extend UNRWA mandate receives overwhelming support

By K. Künzl - November 19, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UNRWA]

The Special Political and Decolonisation Committee (Fourth Committee) of the United Nations General Assembly convened on Friday to vote on an extension of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

The resolution received overwhelming support of 170-2 votes, giving the agency an extension until 2023. Only the United States and Israel voted against the resolution.

With the approval of the mandate, that is renewed every three years, UNRWA has continued to provide vital resources for Palestinian refugees for over seventy years.

The vote comes at a crucial time for the agency amid the resignation of chief Pierre Krähenbühl after initial findings in investigations of “management issues” and their worst financial deficit following the loss of largest independent donor, the US.

Lack of funding has left UNRWA to desperately fill an $89 million gap by the end of the year and has greatly hindered services offered in the fields of health, education, microfinance, protection, relief and social, beneficial to “5.5 million Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria”.

However, the approval of the resolution affirms that despite financial blows Palestinian refugees will continue to have essential needs met by the agency for at least the next three years.

“The vote is also seen as a confirmation of the strong support Member States have for the robust measures being undertaken by the Agency to address the issues identified by the recent investigation, as well as for the broader reforms underway to enhance the Agency’s ability to respond to the needs of Palestine refugees”, an UNRWA report released on Saturday following the ruling stated.

The vote also affirms that regardless of recent controversy, Palestinian refugees are deeply reliant on the UNRWA’s services.  

The Acting Commissioner- General, Christian Saunders, commented, stating,“The fact that 170 UN Member-States reaffirmed their trust in UNRWA and expressed support for it to continue providing its essential assistance for the next three years is a confirmation of the vital role that the Agency plays in supporting the needs of Palestine refugees”.

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