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UNRWA commémore le soixantième anniversaire de son établissement – Centre d'actualités de l'ONU Français
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Source: Department of Public Information (DPI)
United Nations News Service (See also > DPI)
24 September 2009

UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees marks six decades of work

24 September 2009 – National leaders and senior government ministers from around the world have gathered at United Nations Headquarters in New York today to pay tribute to the efforts of the UN agency that has assisted Palestinian refugees across the Middle East for 60 years.

A series of public events are being held to mark the 60th anniversary of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was set up to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

Karen AbuZayd, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, said today’s high-level event offers “an occasion for reflection on why after 60 years of exile and dispossession, millions of Palestine refugees remain stateless.

“With increasing talk about an emerging peace deal, let us all recommit ourselves to finding a peaceful solution in which the tragic situation of the refugees will be resolved.”

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said ahead of today’s events that UNRWA is “not only a lifeline; it is also a symbol of the international community’s determination to end the state of limbo the Palestine refugees endure.”

The agency currently provides education, health care, social services, microfinance, camp improvement and other forms of emergency aid to an estimated 4.6 million refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Last week Ms. AbuZayd warned that UNRWA may not be able to pay the salaries of its 29,000 staff through the end of this year because of a funding crisis. She urged UN Member States to donate more generously than ever to the agency.

Most of UNRWA’s running costs go to staff salaries, the Commissioner-General said, and without an injection of nearly $17 million each month the agency will not be able to guarantee salaries into 2010.

Ms. AbuZayd said she has written in the past week to every country that has ever donated to UNRWA to ask them to contribute “special pledges” given the current situation, and she hopes they will respond urgently.

In a newly released commemorative book, many world figures have paid tribute to the efforts of UNRWA, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s Queen Rania al Abdullah and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Today’s events include a ministerial breakfast, a panel debate, the screening of a documentary film, and a high-level segment that will feature Mr. Ban.

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