The Advisory Commission (AdCom) on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) met on 29-30 November in Amman amidst immense concern over the financial shortfall that the Agency is facing. The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, engaged participants on the risks associated with the financial crisis that the Agency faces and its impact on its ability to maintain services to Palestine refugees. He urgently called on the Agency’s governing body to help him ensure that basic services to Palestine refugees continue in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
“Imagine the immense feeling of abandonment that can come with the disruption of what is probably the only stable lifeline for Palestine refugees,” said the Commissioner-General. “If UNRWA health services are compromised in the middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19 vaccination rollout will come to a halt. Maternal and childcare will stop. Half a million girls and boys will not know if they can continue learning.”
This meeting of the Advisory Commission comes on the heels of the International Conference on UNRWA that took place last month in Brussels and was chaired by Jordan and Sweden. The conference sought to raise urgent funds to bridge the gap in 2021and to establish a predictable longer term planning scheme for the Agency.
The UNRWA Commissioner-General warned against the impact of chronic underfunding on the quality of critical services such as health, education and social safety net to the most destitute. “Decades of investment in excellent services now risk being reversed. Together, we should not allow a reversal of one of the best investments of the international community in the region.”
The Commissioner-General reiterated his urgent call for all partners to continue their solidarity with Palestine refugees in a way that is sustainable, predictable and long-term, until there is a political solution that includes them. He and his team particularly focused on empowering young people and help them in their journey towards self-reliance.
The Advisory Commission is tasked with advising and assisting the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in carrying out the Agency’s mandate. It meets twice a year, usually in June and November, to discuss issues of importance to UNRWA, striving to reach consensus and provide advice and assistance to the Commissioner-General of UNRWA.