Rome, Italy

15 March 2018

UN Secretary-General’s remarks at UNRWA press conference

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I want to express, first of all, my very deep gratitude to the governments of Egypt, Sweden and Jordan for the extraordinary leadership that they’ve shown in mobilizing the whole of the international community in support of UNRWA’s actions, in support of Palestinian refugees. 
I do not recall many conferences in my long career where such unanimous support was given to one institution that provides remarkable services to Palestine refugees - services that need to be maintained at all costs. 
Palestine refugees cannot live without the education, the health services, the community support services provided by UNRWA.  The emergencies in Gaza, in Syria, need UNRWA to go on being active, providing the kind of relief that is absolutely indispensable to rescue lives and to ensure the dignity of the people. 
At the same time, it is clear that countries like Jordan, or Lebanon or Syria have been dramatically impacted by this large number of Palestine refugees and absolutely need the work of UNRWA to support their own gigantic efforts of solidarity with the refugee community.
And finally, if UNRWA did not exist, if its services would not be provided, the security of the region would be severely undermined. So, now it is very clear. It is absolutely essential that the extraordinary unanimity in political support to UNRWA and to its activities translates itself into cash, into the financial support necessary to fully bridge the gap. A very important first step was reached today, but a long way is in front of us, and we need to go on working. 
And fortunately we have these three countries leading these efforts. We fully count on you to go on making sure that until the end of the year we’ll be able to fully fund the gap and to fully respond to the needs and to the rights of Palestine refugees until the day in which we hope the services of UNRWA will no longer be necessary because a political solution will avoid the need for this kind of support. 
But, in between, we cannot fail the Palestine refugees. 
Thank you very much on behalf of the United Nations to all those that have participated today. We really want to be sure that these efforts are pursued and that we’ll be able to reach everything that is needed for this organization that is very effective, very cost effective, and provides services of high quality, gets the necessary support to deliver what the Palestine refugees need, deserve and have the right to receive.