UNITED NATIONS – Pakistan has made an enhanced contribution to the cash-strapped UNRWA, the UN agency entrusted to assist the Palestinian refugees, that drew “heartfelt appreciation” from its chief, Pierre Krahenbuhl.
Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN, handed over the enhanced contribution in New York to Peter Mulrean, Director of UNRWA, which supports more than five million registered Palestinian refugees.
In addition, UNRWA provides education, health care, and social services to the population it supports.
UNRWA ran into deep financial trouble earlier this year when the United States cut back it’s funding of the Agency by around $300 million. That constituted the largest-ever reduction in funding in UNRWA’s history, leading to a severe financial crisis which threatened the existence of many of its critical assistance programmes; forcing cutbacks to its cash-for-work activities; and limiting the provision of assistance to only the most important.
Meanwhile, countries belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and other states decided to step forward to plug the deficit facing UNRWA, and it has nearly been made up. Pakistan joined others in that effort.
Speaking to UNRWA’s director at the Pakistan Mission to the UN, Ambassador Lodhi said Islamabad’s contribution was being increased on the instructions of the government of Pakistan, and in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of Pakistan.
“The people of Pakistan have always stood with their Palestinian brothers and sisters,” she added.
Ambassador Lodhi stressed that this assistance will help UNRWA continue its relief efforts on the ground and keep the schools and clinics open that it runs in Palestinian refugee camps.
In his specially recorded video, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General Krahenbuhl said, “Pakistan’s support in solidarity with the Palestinian people and with Palestine refugees has been historic and extremely important, not only through financial contributions but also in the debates at the UN General Assembly in New York.
“This year’s financial support will enable UNRWA to keep the schools for 530,000 courageous Palestine refugees’ boys and girls open to keep our clinics and primary health care centers running as well as to ensure relief and social services,” he said.
“At the time where Palestine refugees feel forgotten by the world, this sign of support from Pakistan is extremely valued and extremely recognized by us,” he said. “It will send a strong message to Palestine refugees that they are not forgotten and it will enable UNRWA to continue to stand for the rights and dignity of this very anxious community,” Krahenbuhl added.
“For that once again, I am extremely grateful to Pakistan.”
The agency’s 711 schools, provide free basic education for Palestinian refugee children in the West Bank – including East Jerusalem – Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.