UNRWA to request UN agencies to provide services due to lack of funding

Palestinian groups warned that the decision could lead to compromising UNRWA’s mandate. (File photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — UNRWA is considering asking other UN agencies to provide some services as the organization struggles with funding issues, amid Palestinian refusal for “compromising the jobs and services provided by UNRWA,” according to Al-Mamlaka TV.اضافة اعلان

The official spokeswoman for the UN agency, Tamara Al-Rifai, spoke about “thinking to asking UN agencies to provide some services on behalf of UNRWA in case that funding for the agency is not possible, with the aim of preserving all services provided to refugees and not compromising them, as included in the mandate granted to the agency.”
One option is currently being explored and that is to “maximize partnerships within the broader UN system
Rifai, who is also the director of strategic communications at UNRWA, said that the issue is "under study and internal discussion, with an emphasis on the fact that the agency will not hand over any services, and there will be no prejudice to the refugees’ right to obtain services guaranteed by UNRWA, even if another UN agency provides them on its behalf."

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini announced in a letter addressed to Palestinian refugees on Saturday that one option is currently being explored and that is to “maximize partnerships within the broader UN system, and what holds a centerpiece in this option is to be able to provide services on behalf and under the direction of UNRWA, thus to remain fully in line with the mandate that UNRWA received from UN General Assembly.”

Lazzarini underlined that "such partnerships have the potential to protect basic services and the rights of Palestinian refugees from chronic underfunding," adding that "there is no handover or transfer of responsibilities and programs on the table, and there is no tampering with the UNRWA's mandate."

The Commissioner said that UNRWA is "indispensable and will remain so, and we are preparing to vote on renewing UNRWA's mandate at the end of the year."

The Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on Monday rejected any compromise to the functions and services provided by the agency, and called on it in a statement to "retract its recent position regarding the possibility of referring the agency's services to other international institutions."

It warned "against the old and new suspicious plans and attempts aimed at liquidating UNRWA's work."

The PLO considered that "these statements clearly contradict UN Resolution 302 establishing the agency, and the mandate that defines very precisely the functions and responsibilities entrusted to it."

In a statement on Monday, Hamas rejected Lazzarini's statements. The movement's spokesman, Jihad Taha, said that Lazzarini's statements "affect the essence of the refugee issue, the agency's primary role, and the permanence of its work for which it was established in serving and providing relief to refugees."

The Area Staff Union/UNRWA (ASU) in Jordan said in a press statement Monday that the latest statements give a dangerous indication of the future of UNRWA and the Palestinian cause, and open the door wide for more speculations and scenarios, and to put pressure on the agency, stressing their categorical rejection of these statements.

The ASU added that this policy aims to cancel the role of UNRWA in presenting its message and abandoning its responsibility towards the Palestinian refugees, and will inevitably lead to the dissipation of their dream and the elimination of their aspirations and their hope in their right to return to their land and homeland, Palestine, calling on agency officials to retract these statements immediately and calling on the Jordanian government to address these statements and pressure them to retract them.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates was expected to issue a statement on the matter later on Monday.

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