Second Ministerial Strategic Dialogue on UNRWA
22 April 2020
Foreign Ministers H.E Ayman Safadi of Jordan and H.E Ann Linde of Sweden hosted the second Ministerial Strategic Dialogue today, via telecommunication, to discuss joint efforts to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Participants included Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Kuwait, Norway, United Kingdom, the European External Action Service and the European Commission. The meeting was attended by UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.
The participants underscored the importance of UNRWA as a critical component for humanitarian relief, regional development, stability and security, and underlined that UNRWA must continue to operate in fulfillment of its UN mandate until a durable and just solution to the Palestine refugee issue is found in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, including UN General Assembly resolution 194, and within the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.
The participants emphasized the importance of UNRWA’s programmes in providing essential services to over 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operations, including East Jerusalem and Gaza, in line with UN values, and contributing to the Agenda 2030 in accordance with UNRWA’s mandate.
The Strategic Dialogue welcomed the overwhelming international support for UNRWA’s mandate renewal at the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019 and stressed the need to translate that political support into financial support, to allow UNRWA to continue delivering its vital services to Palestinian refugees efficiently and without interruption.
The participants expressed strong support for UNRWA’s new leadership and welcomed the Commissioner-General’s briefing on his plans to further strengthen the Agency.
Given the gravity of the global COVID-19 crisis, the participants called for support to UNRWA’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including through ensuring that the Agency’s flash appeals are fully funded. Participants also expressed appreciation for UNRWA’s staff as frontline responders to the Covid 19 pandemic and the Agency’s ability and ensure the delivery of its mandate in an increasingly challenging political and financial environment.
The Strategic Dialogue called for a renewed international commitment for 2020 and beyond, in order to ensure that UNRWA is able to maintain its educational, health, relief and vital development services to refugees and to advocate for their rights and protection in accordance with its mandate. The participants invited all donors to actively support UNRWA, notably through multiyear financial commitments and core financing, to help the Agency meet the 2020 budget requirements and ensure sufficient sustainable, and predictable financial support. Furthermore, the participants explored ways to assist the Agency diversify and expand its donor base and its funding opportunities.
The participants agreed to convene a virtual pledging conference in the coming months to ensure that the Agency’s financial needs are met.