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Saudi Arabia is First Arab Donor to Chair UNRWA's Advisory Commission: Official
Published in Saudi Press Agency on 26 - 05 - 2010

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will hold the rotating chairmanship of the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), effective from the month of July.
The Kingdom is the first among Arab donor countries to hold the chairmanship ever of the Agency that serves and assist 4.7 million Palestinian refugees in 58 recognized camps and other places of residence, said Filippo Grandi, The Commissioner-General of the UNRWA currently on a visit to the Kingdom.
In an exclusive interview with the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Grandi said this is his first visit to the Kingdom after his appointment as the UNRWA's Commissioner-General.
"Saudi Arabia is a crucial partner of the Agency I direct, and my visit almost coincide with the assumption of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of the Chairmanship of the Advisory Commission of UNRWA. This is a body of 23 governments which advice the Commissioner-General on all matters of policies and operations concerning UNRWA. It has a rotating chair. It is chaired one year by a country hosting Palestinian refugees and one year by a donor country. Effective from July 01, Saudi Arabia will become the chair for one year. It is the first time in sixty years of history of UNRWA that an Arab donor country takes over the chairmanship of the advisory Commission. I think it is an important date, and I came here to discuss with interlocutor in the Saudi government how we can make the best use of this important opportunity " he said
"Moreover, my first priority is to thank the Saudi authorities for the strong support that they have always given to UNRWA, especially in the past two years. This support is political, moral and financial. Also, I will focus on how to strengthen even more this support, especially in the financial side as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a very important donor. Last year for example, its one single donation of US $25 million was for the reconstruction of the Nahr Al-Barid - a refugee camp in north of Lebanon which was destroyed in a conflict three years ago. This was the largest single contribution to the construction of the kind. Additionally, the Kingdom has been not only supporting emergencies like those in Gaza or Lebanon but also it has been carrying out regular programs in domains of health, education and social services," Grandi said.
"Nevertheless, the Kingdom's contribution to the UNRWA has always been very generous and necessary in situations of emergencies such as during the war in Gaza last year, or during Nahr Al-Barid crises in Lebanon, during Jinnin Crises in 2002 in the west Bank," he added.
"It is important for the Arab donors and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in particular which is very important government in the region to understand the importance of supporting UNRWA's key programs specially in education and Health spheres."
He added that UNRWA has 700 schools and every day 500,000 children go to UNRWA's schools. “This is the future of Palestine. It is important to support it"
"Unfortunately, UNRWA is in a very difficult financial situation. We have a gap. The minimum we need is $90 million to complete in 2010, I will ask the Saudi authorities to consider this dramatic funding crises and to make gesture not to contribute the whole but together with other donors like the United States, the European donors, Japan and other important donors collectively to make special efforts to help UNRWA come out of this financial crises."
He stressed on the importance of his agency saying that " without UNRWA, the Palestinian refugees will be lost and abandoned, we cannot afford that".
"I was very encouraged yesterday in my conversation with his highness Prince Salman and also with more technical discussions that we held with Eng. Yossuf Al Bassam (Saudi Fund For Development) and his team. I was very happy to see how much appreciation UNRWA enjoys in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It is very nice to hear that we are appreciated, the work of UNRWA is valued. Therefore, I am optimistic that our partnership with the Kingdom especially during this year of chairmanship of the Advisory Commission and beyond for many more years will be necessary for UNRWA. I am confident that it will be one of key partners in the world," he said.
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