Jordan, Sweden co-host UNRWA event to raise funds for Palestinian refugees
Jordan and Sweden co-hosted a high-level ministerial meeting on Thursday in support of Palestinian refugees and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly, a UNRWA statement said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was present at the meeting which saw member states reaffirm strong support for the UNRWA and explore ways to break the deadlock that threatens the agency's ability to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees in the region.
Member states made "generous pledges" to UNRWA, which has been crippled by recent lack of funding.
"I’m immensely proud of the work of UNRWA - a lifeline for millions of Palestine Refugees," Guterres said at the meeting.
"But I'm very concerned about its future. Needs keep increasing but funds are stagnating or decreasing. Sustaining UNRWA is in our collective interest and is our collective responsibility."
With Thursday's pledges, UNRWA will only be able to sustain its critical core services for the months of September and October, the agency said in a statement, adding that it will pursue efforts to raise the necessary funds to maintain services until the end of the year.
"What is urgently needed is a just political solution for Palestine Refugees, whose plight remains one of the longest unresolved refugee crises in the world," said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
"While we welcome pledges made at this meeting, I urge our partners to put the protection of the rights of Palestine Refugees at the top of their political agendas and address the sustainability of UNRWA."
The organisation needs about US$200 million to pay employees' salaries and continue services until the end of 2023.
UNRWA runs 288 schools in the Palestinian territories, out of 700 schools it funds in the Middle East region, along with 140 medical clinics.
It is estimated that around two-thirds of Gaza's population of 2.3 million are refugees, the descendants of those who fled or were forced to flee their original towns and villages during the 1948 war that saw the forceful creation of the State of Israel.
Almost half of Gaza's students learn in UNRWA schools, about 300,000 students receive their education in government-run schools, and others learn in privately owned schools.