PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi received Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krähenbühl who was accompanied by his Chief of Staff Hakam Shahwan at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah.
Dr. Ashrawi thanked UNRWA for its dedicated and professional efforts in providing the 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in Occupied Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria with essential services, assistance and opportunities for work, growth and development while safeguarding their legal and political rights. She also lauded their overall contribution to the stability of the region as a whole.
The discussion focused on the enormous challenges and financial shortfalls facing UNRWA in carrying out its mandate to assist the Palestinian refugees as a result of the US administration’s politicization of humanitarian aid by defunding UNRWA.
Both parties expressed their appreciation to the more than 25 donors, including China, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, for their additional financial contributions to help bridge the funding gap caused by the US decision to terminate all funding of UNRWA:
“We are confident that the additional sponsorship of the organization will herald a new partnership, whereby UNRWA will emerge more vitalized and secure in its mandate and its support system.”
In that view, Dr. Ashrawi said,
“It is unfortunate that the US administration decided to use UNRWA as a political tool in its efforts to pressure and blackmail the Palestinian people and leadership, thereby causing harm to the most vulnerable segment of the Palestinian population.
In its overzealous drive to serve Israeli interests and priorities, the US is also targeting international organizations and the global rule of law in order to unilaterally reshape them. These attempts will only fail and will isolate the US government in the international arena and undermine its global influence and standing.
We, as the PLO, are committed to working with and supporting UNRWA to ensure that it continues to carry out its mandate according to UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) and that it is guaranteed stability and continuity until the refugee question is resolved on the basis of justice and international law and conventions, including UN General Assembly Resolution 194 (III).”
Dr. Ashrawi also appealed to the entire international community to provide UNRWA and the Palestinian people with a safety net and financial stability.
In addition, both parties affirmed continued PLO-UNRWA coordination and cooperation and enhanced consultations on issues of mutual interest.
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