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Saudi Arabia has donated $700mn to UNRWA over the past decade: Al-Muallami
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 24 - 06 - 2020

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia was represented by Abdullah Bin Yahya Al-Muallami, Kingdom's permanent representative to the United Nations, during an extraordinary ministerial conference of donors to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The conference entitled "A Strong UNRWA in a Challenging World — Mobilizing Collective Action" was organized by the United Nations on Tuesday in cooperation with Jordan and Sweden.
Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi made it clear during his speech at the beginning of the conference that the UNRWA should continue to provide its services to the Palestinian refugees until their case is resolved in a way that guarantees their right to return and compensation in accordance with the international legitimacy decisions.
Any rollback in the agency's services will exacerbate the suffering of the Palestinian people, which is more than what any people could afford.
The Jordanian minister stressed that now is the time to act to support the UNRWA, which is doing everything it can to ensure effectiveness in its performance.
Then United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also delivered a speech in which he emphasized that everyone participating in the conference should mobilize political and financial support for the vital work of the UNRWA, noting that the agency is not only a lifeline for millions of Palestine refugees but also important for regional stability.
The UN chief stated that donor support enables the UNRWA to protect and promote the rights of Palestine refugees under international law, including gender equality, child protection, and the rights of persons with disabilities.
Highlighting the contribution of the Kingdom toward the Palestinian cause, Al-Muallami said Saudi Arabia is one of the most important countries defending the Palestinian people and one of the most generous donors to the UNRWA. He pointed out that the support stems from Saudi Arabia's firm belief in the important assistance provided by the UNRWA to more than 5.4 million Palestinian refugees through its educational and health programs so that they can lead a decent life.
At the outset of his speech, Al-Muallami expressed his sincere appreciation to the UN chief, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philip Lazarini, and all the agency's staff for their concerted efforts and valuable work In light of the harsh conditions and risks they face to help Palestine refugees.
Al-Muallami praised the role of the UNRWA since its foundation 70 years ago and the services it provides to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian refugees, which resulted from one of the greatest tragedies in modern history when the Palestinians were expelled from their lands due to the Israeli occupation.
Al-Maalami stated that between 2000 and 2019, Saudi Arabia provided the UNRWA with about $700 million, stressing that Saudi Arabia will continue to be a leader in its support for Palestinian refugees whose suffering continues unabated.
For his part, Swedish Minister for International Cooperation and Development Peter Erickson urged donors to translate the UNRWA's political support into financial support and contribute to a more sustainable UNRWA with multi-year support for its program budget.
Meanwhile, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philip Lazarini delivered a speech on this occasion, saying that the results of today's conference will clarify the international commitment toward the rights and welfare of Palestine refugees and toward the role of the UNRWA as the main provider of human development and humanitarian assistance until the relevant political bodies reach a just and lasting solution to their plight.
He noted that the UNRWA is taking an important step forward in responding to the chronic financial challenges the agency is facing and it is seeking to forge multi-year agreements, expanding the donor base and exploring innovative financing mechanisms and mechanisms.
At the conclusion of the conference, the UNRWA announced that 75 countries and NGOs have made financial commitments worth $130 million to sustain the operations and services provided by the agency.


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