No: 17, 15 January 2018, Press Release Regarding Some Statements On The Ending Of Unrwa’s Funding

Republic Of Turkey Ministry Of Foreign Affairs 15.01.2018

Recent statements by the United States that it will end its contributions to the financing of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and the subsequent statements by Israel that UNRWA is the source of the refugee problem and should be eliminated are a source for concern.

UNRWA was established following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, with the UN General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) dated December 8, 1949, for the purpose of improving the living conditions of Palestinian refugees and protecting their rights.

Since its inception, Turkey has taken an active role in UNRWA and from July 2017 onward has assumed the Vice Chairmanship of the Agency’s Advisory Commission. UNRWA has been providing invaluable services for Palestinians in the fields of education, health, social services, microfinance, infrastructure, housing, first aid as well as the protection of the rights of refugees. Particularly its services in education play a vital role in the protection of the Palestinian identity. Approximately 1 million Palestinian refugees are still living in need of emergency food aid from UNRWA.

It is clear that more restrictions on the budget of UNRWA, which is currently in a financial bottleneck, will negatively affect the lives of more than five million Palestinians, as well as hamper the efforts towards a two-state political solution and regional stability.

In this context, being of paramount importance for the Palestinian people's self-sufficiency, it is important that the issue is kept free from political considerations and be viewed from a humanitarian perspective and that international support to UNRWA is continued in an unhindered manner.

Within the framework of its role as Vice-Chairman of the Advisory Commission and its upcoming Chairmanship from July 2018 onward, Turkey will continue to contribute to the international efforts to increase financial backing to the Agency and will also increase its own support.

Hakan Çakıl Ambassador
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