UN agency for Palestinian refugees requests more donations to bridge huge deficit

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said the share of donations from Arab countries to the agency’s core budget rose 3 per cent last year.“We really need a much bigger increase,” said Mr. Grandi during UNRWA’s Advisory Commission meeting.He also pointed out that the stalled peace process between the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis was increasing the threat to the region’s stability.Mr. Grandi urged “political actors to take the bold steps necessary to embrace urgently a framework to end the conflict leading to the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, thriving in peace and mutual security with its neighbours and to a just and lasting solution to the refugee question.“As the refugees emerged from – and exist as a consequence of – the 1948 conflict, addressing their plight, with their engagement and consent, is a prerequisite for a resolution of the conflict,” he said.In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday spoke by telephone with Israel’s Defence Minister Ehud Barak on the situation in the Gaza Strip, including UN projects there, the possibility of new flotillas to the territory, as well as the need to resume Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.With respect to UN projects in Gaza, Mr. Ban welcomed the progress that has been made and called for the speedy implementation of UNRWA’s housing projects in Khan Yunis and Rafah.With respect to future flotillas, the Secretary-General hoped that escalation could be avoided. Meaningful steps were needed to ensure that assistance and goods were brought into Gaza through existing land crossings and established channels.Mr. Ban called for the resumption of talks in the Middle East Peace Process aimed at achieving the two-State solution. 21 June 2011The head of the United Nations entity tasked with assisting millions of Palestinian refugees said today that the agency faced a projected deficit of $63 million this year and urged donors in the region, whom he said have been generous in the past, to increase their assistance.

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