UNRWA must not be starved of funds

UNRWA (File)

The Guardian  /  July 20, 2020

Open Letter

Current and former senior politicians and diplomats call on UN member states for urgent financial support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

As current and former policymakers who have dedicated their careers to promoting peace and security worldwide, we urge all UN member states to reinforce their overwhelming vote of support from last December for the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) by now providing the funding the agency desperately needs. Without consistent, reliable funding UNRWA will not be able to fulfil its UN-mandated mission to protect and assist a vulnerable population of 5.6 million Palestinian refugees until there is a just and lasting solution to their plight. In a region rife with conflicts, and now battling the health and socioeconomic impacts of Covid-19, UNRWA stands as a vital source of regional stability.

The last three months have again demonstrated there is no alternative to UNRWA that can respond to emergencies while continuing to invest in human beings. UNRWA has been recognised as a major contributor in the containment of the Covid-19 virus, particularly in preventing its spread through densely populated Palestinian refugee camps in the region. Drawing on its long experience in conflict zones, UNRWA quickly adapted the provision of its services in concert with WHO recommendations and host-country requirements. As a result, medical, hygiene and sanitation, isolation and general support services have gone largely uninterrupted.

UNRWA provides quality education in a region where instability and conflicts are widespread. UNRWA schools have contributed to the education of some 2.5 million girls and boys and have instilled the principles of tolerance and human rights in hundreds of thousands of young minds.

The recent talk of unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank by Israel and the announcement by the US administration of the “Peace to Prosperity” plan raise concerns about departing from an internationally agreed process aimed at achieving a lasting settlement, including for Palestinian refugees, based upon United Nations resolutions.

Mogens Lykketoft Former foreign minister, Denmark, and former UN general assembly president
Margot Wallström Former minister of foreign affairs, Sweden
Holger K Nielsen Former foreign minister, Denmark
Bert Koenders Former minister of foreign affairs, Netherlands
Erkki Tuomioja Former foreign minister, Finland
Joe Costello Former minister of state for trade and development and chair of the European affairs committee, Ireland
Franco Frattini Former foreign minister and European commissioner, Italy
Gro Harlem Brundtland Former prime minister, Norway
Jan Eliasson Former foreign minister and UN general assembly president, Sweden
Lena Hjelm-Wallén Former foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Sweden
Peter Hain Former minister of state for the Middle East, UK
Desmond Swayne Former minister of state for international development, UK
Mary Robinson Former president, Ireland, and UN high commissioner for human rights
Hans-Gert Pöttering Former president of the European parliament
Robert Serry Former UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process and current chairman of UPEACE Centre, The Hague
Chris Patten Former vice-president of the European commission
Willy Claes Former foreign minister and Nato secretary general, Belgium
Micheline Calmy-Rey Former foreign minister and president, Switzerland
Laura Boldrini Former president of the chamber of deputies, Italy
Karel De Gucht Former foreign minister and European commissioner, Belgium
Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis Former minister of foreign affairs, Cyprus
Sarah Champion Chair of the international development select committee, UK
Lilianne Ploumen Former minister for development cooperation, Netherlands
Hilary Benn Former international development secretary, UK
Espen Barth Eide Former foreign minister, Norway
Tessa Blackstone Former education minister, UK
Luisa Morgantini Former vice-president and former chair of the committee on development of the European parliament, Italy
Carlo Sommaruga Social Democratic party, Switzerland
John Jenkins Former ambassador to Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and former consul general in Jerusalem, UK
Marc Otte Former EU special representative to the Middle East peace process, Belgium
Štefan Füle Former European commissioner for neighbourhood and enlargement, Czech Republic