22 September 2017

Urgent Steps Needed to Bridge Palestine Refugee Agency’s Funding Shortfall, Secretary-General Says, Warning It ‘May Run Out of Money in Weeks’

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the high-level meeting “Giving Hope to Palestine Refugees: New Horizons for Sustainable Funding for UNRWA”, in New York today:

I thank the Governments of Jordan, Sweden and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), for bringing participants together at this important meeting.

We have a responsibility to preserve, through UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East], our humanitarian support to Palestinian refugees.  But, the Agency faces repeated financial crises.

At the General Assembly’s request, a report has been submitted to Member States with proposals on ways to secure funding to enable UNRWA to continue its activities uninterrupted.  The report reflects the call for sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.  It identifies new funding mechanisms, particularly through the World Bank and Islamic Development Bank.  I welcome their participation in this meeting.

We need urgent steps to bridge UNRWA’s funding shortfall.  The Agency may run out of money in weeks — with severe consequences, especially in vital sectors such as health and education.

My recent visit to Gaza strengthened my conviction that UNRWA’s role is critical.  We must live up to our responsibility to preserve a robust UNRWA and assure Palestine refugees of our solidarity.

For information media. Not an official record.