Remarks by H.E. Mr. Abdulla Shahid, President of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly
23 June 2022
I am pleased to deliver remarks at this Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees.
The objective of today’s meeting is very clear. The operations of UNRWA and its budget are moving in opposite directions. Put simply, there is more to accomplish, even as financial resources continue to diminish.
Despite these hardships, UNRWA continues to do indispensable, lifesaving work. It is not enough to merely recognize and celebrate that work; we must ensure that they have access to adequate, sustainable, and predictable funding.
At present, UNRWA has announced a budget gap of 1.6 US billion dollars for 2022.
Their current financial requests include additional emergency funding for UNRWA, to address the humanitarian needs arising from crises in Gaza; the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; Syria; and Lebanon.
The Agency’s chronic budget shortfall threatens the livelihoods and well-being of the Palestine refugees that rely upon the operations of UNRWA. And it poses a serious threat to the Agency’s ability to maintain critical services.
It is incumbent upon the international Community and the United Nations General Assembly in particular to meet this funding gap. To provide millions of Palestine refugees with vital lifesaving services and programs, including education, health, and food assistance.
The issue of the Palestine refugees is one of the longest standing issues of the United Nations. Yet, it remains as urgent and as relevant today as it did in 1949.
For over seven decades, Palestine refugees have continued to suffer. They have lost their homes, lands, and means of livelihood.
As affirmed by countless General Assembly Resolutions, resolving the situation of Palestinian refugees is imperative for the achievement of justice and lasting peace in the region.
Global development challenges as we know, are increasing. This presents greater human development challenges upon the already vulnerable situation of Palestine refugees in the near East.
I commend UNRWA for ongoing efforts to provide humanitarian relief and education, while promoting important social causes, including gender equality, despite the difficult conditions they endure.
The burdens of fully resolving those conditions cannot fall on UNWRA alone. It is a collective responsibility of the international community to support Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict, on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law, and long-standing international parameters for the Middle East Peace Process.
The international community must fulfil its legal and moral obligations to end the occupation and achieve the vision of a two-state solution, as outlined in Resolution 181. This remains the only premise for a just, lasting and comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to bring peace, security, mutual recognition and prosperity to all.
We must also recognize the teachers, doctors, nurses, sanitation workers and so many others for their noble services on the field.
These people continue to provide hope and access to the most basic of essentials for Palestinian refugees. And they do so under an increasingly hostile and dangerous environment.
I am equally grateful to all Member States that have supported and continue to support the operations of UNRWA.
It remains clear however, that we must do more.
Excellencies, distinguished delegates,
As you deliberate on future commitments and pledges, I implore that you look beyond the monetary value.
This here, is about our commitments, principles and values to global peace and security, to peoples, prosperity, and the planet.
It is about providing a sense of normality for the young people who in their own words, ‘did not choose to live through war and blockade’.
It is about our commitment to truly ‘leave no one behind’.
Let us live up to those commitments for the millions of lives and livelihoods that count on us.
I thank you.