FM, Swedish counterpart chair 3rd strategic dialogue to fund UNRWA

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Ayman Safadi, and his Swedish counterpart, on Thursday, chaired the third ministerial strategic dialogue to drum up support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), discuss joint efforts to back the UN agency and create operational approaches and methods that tackle its financial challenges.


In his opening speech to the dialogue, Safadi said the biggest challenge facing UNRWA is to ensure the necessary funding and enable it to continue providing its vital services.


Safadi referred to the achievement that was achieved by renewing the UNRWA mandate in December 2019 with an overwhelming majority, as the international consensus confirmed the importance of the agency’s role.


The dialogues held by the Stockholm Group led, for the first time in the agency’s history, to the adoption of a budget for two years instead of 1 year, which contributes to ensuring multi-year and sustainable support for the agency, according to Safadi.


Safadi urged countries to fulfill their financial pledges, as the agency faces a financial deficit that threatens catastrophic consequences for Palestinian refugees, if not met before the agency’s financial allocations run out, especially in light of the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic crisis.


Safadi reviewed some non-traditional effective approaches that could be adopted in the future to ensure sustainable financing for the agency, primarily strengthening the funding role of regional groups and the private sector, according to mechanisms agreed upon by the Stockholm Group.


Safadi indicated that the donors conference scheduled to be held at the beginning of next year is an important step in the framework of international political and financial support for the Agency.


Safadi added: “UNRWA must continue to provide its services until a just and lasting solution is found to the Palestinian refugee issue in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, especially Resolution 194, and in the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution, in line with international law and approved references.”


Safadi warned of the humanitarian, political and security consequences that would result from the Agency’s inability to fulfill its UN mandate and provide its vital services to Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operations, noting that depriving millions of refugees of their right to education, health and relief will deepen the refugees’ “humanitarian” suffering.


Safadi appreciated the announcement by Kuwait and the United Kingdom to provide a total of $23 million in urgent additional financial support to the Agency to enable it to continue providing basic services in its five areas of operations.


For their part, the participants stressed the importance of the Agency as a cornerstone in providing humanitarian relief to Palestinian refugees, and efforts to achieve security, stability and development in the region.


On ways toi maintain its operations, they stressed the need that UNRWA continues carrying out its UN mandate until a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian refugee issue is reached in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions, including General Assembly Resolution 194, and in the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state settlement.


During the dialogue, UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazarini reviewed the various challenges facing the agency in light of the political and economic instability facing the region, which was exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, referring to the agency’s serious financial situation and the need to achieve sustainable financing for several years.


Participants also emphasized the importance of ensuring sustainable financial support aimed at securing the Agency’s needs for several years from a more diversified and expanding donor base.


The meeting stressed the importance of UNRWA’s programs in providing basic and vital services to more than 5.6 million Palestinian refugees living in its five areas of operations, in line with its UN mandate.


Renewing their full support for the mandate of UNRWA, which was overwhelmingly renewed during the work of the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019, the participants stressed the importance of translating that political support into financial support to enable the Agency to continue providing its vital services to Palestinian refugees effectively and without interruption.


The participants called on donors to provide all available financial support to plug the funding gap for the remainder of 2020 to ensure that UNRWA can maintain its vital educational, health, relief and development services for refugees and protect them in accordance with the agency’s mandate.


Participants agreed to make joint efforts to bridge the financing gap by communicating with other donors.


Calling for continued support for the agency’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the participants expressed their appreciation for the efforts made by agency staff in difficult circumstances, including those resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic.


The participants agreed to hold an international donor conference at the beginning of the year 2021 to support ensuring continued financial support to the Agency.


The dialogue, hosted by the two kingdoms, was attended by the foreign ministers of Kuwait and Norway, the Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union, and high-level officials from France, the United Kingdom and Germany, in the presence of UNRWA Commissioner-General Philip Lazarini.


The first strategic dialogue was held in Stockholm in April of 2019, followed by the second strategic dialogue in April of 2020 through videoconferencing.


Source: Jordan News Agency