UNRWA hopes to renew mandate for additional three years

UN refugee agency is ‘working intensively to secure November, December salaries for approximately 30,000 staff members’

(File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — On Monday, UNRWA Commissioner-General of the Philippe Lazzarini presented to the UN General Assembly’s Fourth Committee its annual report, Khaberni reported.اضافة اعلان

“Since I last briefed this committee in November 2020, the situation in the region has continued to deteriorate. The vulnerability and needs of Palestine refugees have reached record levels. 

For the first time in decades, four out of the five areas where UNRWA operates are simultaneously in crisis: Gaza, the West Bank including East Jerusalem Lebanon and Syria,” Lazzarini said in his address to the UN, expressing hope that UNRWA’s mandate will be renewed for an additional three years, and that the international community will show support and solidarity to the Palestinian refugees.

“The conflict in Gaza last May was the fourth since 2008. It compounded and accelerated human suffering. UNRWA lost 20 of its students.  Over 1,300 shelters were damaged and made uninhabitable. Psychosocial trauma, particularly among children, is acute. Poverty remains widespread. After 14 years of blockade, unemployment is skyrocketing, particularly among youth and women. In response, UNRWA is now providing food assistance to almost all Palestine refugees in Gaza, 70 per cent of the total population,” he said, expressing concern that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate “in the absence of a genuine political track aimed at lifting the blockade on people, goods and trade, in line with UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions”.

According to Lazzarini, settler violence is rising and they act with impunity, “and thousands of people, including many Palestine refugees, continue to live with the daily threat of forced displacement”.

Why deploring the “deep sense of abandonment” that “dominates the Palestine refugee psyche across the region”, Lazzarini said that “sustaining quality services is becoming an impossible mission”, stressing that there is a serious disconnect between the growing reliance of Palestine refugees on UNRWA services and decreased donor funding”.

According to Lazzarini, UNRWA’s financial situation “remains dramatic and uncertain. As I speak to you, we still lack the funds to operate in November and December. Furthermore, the agency still suffers a shortfall of $15 million to ensure the smooth running of its services during this month.”

“In Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, 80 to 90 percent of Palestine refugees now live below the poverty line,” he said, calling on the UN committee to continue supporting the Palestinians, respond to their humanitarian needs, and promote their right to a dignified life.

Meanwhile, UNRWA media advisor in Gaza Strip Adnan Abu Hasna said that the agency is “working intensively to secure the November and December salaries for approximately 30,000 staff members” in the agency’s five areas of operation, Al-Mamlaka TV reported.

The agency was facing a financial deficit of about $100 million, but the figure was brought down to $50–80 million following contributions from some donor countries, Abu Hasna said,

While UNRWA continues to search for increased funding and new donors, he said, it faces growing demand for its services, due to the increase in the number of registered Palestine refugees whose living conditions are worsening.

UNRWA’s activities in Jordan face 83 percent deficit in the first six months of this year, according to Khaberni.

Some $6.4 million of $38.5 million needed for its programs was received, the agency report said, which makes the deficit in the first six months of the current year $32 million, according to Al-Ghad News.

According to the 2022 report, of the emergency appeal for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, only $2 million was allocated for cash assistance for basic needs, out of the needed $24.2 million, and only $555,000 out of $3 million were directed toward emergency health requirements, while no provision was made for emergency education requirements, estimated by the agency to be $4.5 million.

Out of the $4.5 million required for social protection need, only $141,000 was allocated; of the $2.4 million needed to protect the environment, only $444,000 is needed, and out of the $1.1 million needed for coordination and management, $1 million was allocated.

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