UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan reaffirmed its dedication to the Palestinian cause at the 2019 pledging conference for the cash-strapped UN agency that assists Palestinian refugees by announcing a fresh commitment of financial support.
“The international community must not fail the Palestinian people,” Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi told the pledging event for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) held at UN headquarters in New York.
UNRWA ran into deep financial trouble more than a year ago when the Trump administration stopped US funding of UNRWA, and called for the agency to be dissolved, saying it was no longer justified 70 years after the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the creation of Israel.
“Today, I humbly ask all donors to maintain their support for UNRWA at last year’s level,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said as he opened the pledging conference.
“We know what is at risk: education for a half million children; 8 million health care visits a year; emergency relief for 1.5 million. In Gaza alone, one million Palestine refugees depend on UNRWA for food,” he said.
Last year, UNRWA relied on extra money from member states and internal savings to cover a US $446 million budgetary gaps. This year it unveiled a budget of US $1.2 billion, unchanged from 2018.
Founded in 1949, UNRWA runs schools and provides health care for some five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.
In her remarks, Ambassador Lodhi backed the UN chief’s call, saying Pakistan would make a “voluntary contribution that is commensurate to the contribution we made to UNRWA, last year.”
“Amid all their trials and tribulations, Palestinian refugees have indeed, been reassured in their hopes by the constant presence of UNRWA,” the Pakistani envoy said.