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United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
11 June 2008
June 10, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
UNRWA Commissioner-General welcomes signs of Palestinian "rapprochement"
The Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen AbuZayd, today welcomed indications of a rapprochement between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah. Speaking at a meeting in Damascus of UNRWA's Advisory Commission, she said "any and every opportunity to achieve conciliation and cessation of conflict must be grasped and actively nurtured by the international community".
On the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory, AbuZayd said that "poverty and unemployment" were "rife, while movement restrictions and grave human rights abuses continued to deny to Palestinians the dignity and human security which should – under international law – be theirs by right".
The Commissioner-General also turned her attention to the situation at the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in the north of Lebanon, which she said would be a "massive undertaking which will put to the test the generosity of donors from around the world and the combined project implementation abilities of UNRWA and its partners".
On the situation for refugees in Jordan and Syria, AbuZayd said she felt "quite strongly that there was room to re-double the efforts of UNRWA to build on the freedoms and opportunities afforded by those host governments that maximize UNRWA's human development work for Palestine refugees.
The meeting of the Advisory Commission was also officially opened by the Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister, Dr Faisal Miqdad. Reaffirming the Syrian Government's support for UNRWA's work, Dr Miqdad called for efforts to enlarge the Agency's donor base to ensure increased contributions.
Welcoming delegates to the first meeting of the Advisory Commission in Damascus, Mr. Ali Mustafa, Director-General of the General Authority for Palestinian Arab Refugees (GAPAR) and the current Chairperson of the Advisory Commission noted that the work of the Commission had taken an important track after the conference held in Geneva in 2004 on the future of UNRWA. Mr. Mustafa stressed that the plan charted in Geneva "needed to be maintained in order to introduce significant improvements in the lives of the Palestine refugees".
The Advisory Commission was established under General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to advise and assist the Commissioner-General of UNRWA in the execution of its programme. On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly decided to expand the membership of the Commission from 11 to 24 members and observers.
UNRWA is a humanitarian and human development agency providing education, health care, social services, micro-credit and emergency relief to over 4 million registered refugees living in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
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