On 18 October, the EU delivered a statement at the Security Council Open Debate on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, which addressed all the complex dimensions and consequences of the Israel Palestine conflict.
Please allow me to focus today on UNRWA.
The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, align themselves with this statement.
Humanitarian assistance must overtake political divisions. Stopping UNRWA’s important humanitarian activities could well cause instability across the region and create a vacuum that would only serve the extremists.
That is why the European Union and its Member States are collectively the largest contributors to UNRWA's budget. We are and will continue to be strong, reliable and predictable supporters of the Agency. The EU and its Member States were among the first to answer the Agency’s call for additional funds during this year’s extraordinary financial crisis. Just a few weeks ago, the European Commission increased its financial support to UNRWA by 40 million euro, whereby raising its total contribution to the Agency to 146 million euro since the beginning of this year. The EU welcomes the additional financial support from other and new donors and calls upon all partners to translate this positive step into multi-annual contributions.
In the ministerial meeting which the EU co-chaired along with two EU Member States Sweden and Germany, and other partners on 27 September 2018, participants underlined the importance of fully supporting the ability of UNRWA to implement its mandate effectively in assisting and protecting Palestine refugees and building their resilience while continuing to ensure transparency and accountability in its programmes.
In this context, the work of UNRWA to counter the shortfall and contain its impact, including through the continuation of far-reaching reforms, including internal measures to increase cost-efficiency, has been commendable. It requires recognition and has our full support.
Next year will be an even tougher year for UNRWA. In this context we need to stress, once again, the crucial importance for UNRWA and donors to intensify efforts to put the agency on stable financial footing while maintaining focus on its mandate.
The international community needs to do its utmost to ensure that UNRWA and its dedicated staff continue to operate until a just, fair, agreed and realistic solution to the plight of Palestine refugees is finally reached, within the framework of a two-state solution.
* The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.