Guterres to Brussels: UNRWA is facing an existential crisis

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On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned of an “existential crisis” facing the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

He called on international donors to provide urgent financial support to ensure the continuation of its work.

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This came in a speech he delivered at the International Conference of International Donors currently being held in the Belgian capital, Brussels, and organized by Sweden and the Kingdom of Jordan.

The conference aims to obtain the financial support UNRWA needs to ensure the continuation of its work and to overcome its financial plight that threatens the services provided to about six million Palestinian refugees.

“UNRWA plays a pivotal role in promoting regional stability, but it is now facing an existential crisis,” Guterres said in a video message to conference participants.

He added, “Recurring funding crises have led UNRWA to take austerity measures that have reached a peak.

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Whereas what UNRWA really needs is to provide it with adequate resources.”

Recently, UNRWA said that it is suffering from a financial crisis due to the decline in Arab support and some European countries, which may affect the payment of the salaries of its employees during the next two months.

Guterres addressed the representatives of foundations and donor countries participating in the conference: “I have two specific requests.

First, we need urgent and decisive support to maintain UNRWA’s ability to operate and to close the funding gap immediately.”

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“Secondly, I urge you to make long-term commitments and solidarity and to live up to the generosity of countries hosting Palestine refugees,” he continued.

UNRWA was established by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 and was mandated to provide assistance and protection to refugees in its five areas of operation.

They are Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip until a just solution to their problem is found.