On 27 September, the Foreign Ministers of Jordan, Sweden, Turkey, Japan and Germany, as well as the High Representative and Vice-President of the European Union, hosted a Ministerial Meeting in New York, with the aim of mobilizing financial and political support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
The Ministerial Meeting raised a remarkable US$122 million, with Kuwait, the European Union, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium and Ireland announcing additional funding commitments. This meeting represented a crucial step in the efforts to overcome the Agencyâ€™s remaining shortfall of US$ 186 million and sustain UNRWA operations in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
PNN reports that the event was attended by Ministers and senior officials from a total of 34 Member States and organizations, including the League of Arab States, the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the Islamic Development Bank. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the General Assembly, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA and two Palestine Refugee students also participated in the event.
The Commissioner-General, Mr. Pierre KrĂ¤henbĂĽhl, thanked Member States for their extraordinary support: â€śToday, we witnessed a powerful moment of commitment and solidarity with Palestine refugees. I am very grateful to the co-Chairs for convening this important meeting and demonstrating the strength of collective actionâ€ť.
UNRWA was confronted with a dramatic financial crisis when in January 2018 its largest donor announced a major reduction in contributions and the Agencyâ€™s shortfall reached an unprecedented US$446 million. The mobilization since then, including at this Ministerial meeting in New York, has brought the deficit down to US$64 million.
Mr KrĂ¤henbĂĽhl added: â€śI express my genuine appreciation for the generous funding announcements made by Kuwait, the European Union, Germany, Norway, France, Belgium and Ireland. The results of the New York meeting, added to the support received from other partners this year, represent a very significant achievement.â€ť
Chris Carlson is a student of religion at Mount Mercy University, United States, and has been a regular volunteer with the IMEMC since 2013. He assisted in providing extensive coverage of the 2014 Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip and continues, into the present day, with the issues at hand. He can be reached via email at c h r i s @ i m e m c . o r g.