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FM, Swedish counterpart chair 3rd ministerial strategic dialogue on UNRWA

By JT - Oct 15,2020 - Last updated at Oct 15,2020

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde (not pictured) chair the third ministerial strategic dialogue to discuss sustainable means to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Thursday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi and Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde on Thursday chaired the third ministerial strategic dialogue to discuss sustainable means to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Talks during the virtual meeting focused on joint efforts towards underpinning the agency to overcome its financial challenges, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. 

Addressing the gathering, Safadi said that the main challenge facing the UNRWA is ensuring the necessary financing which allows the delivery of the agency’s vital services.

He highlighted the overwhelming international support to renew the UNRWA mandate in 2019, stressing the international consensus emphasising the importance of the agency’s role. 

“The series of Stockholm group dialogues had, for the first time, brought a two-year budget instead of an annual one, which contributes in ensuring sustainable and multi-year financial support,” he said.

Given the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, Safadi also called on donors to fulfill their financial commitments, to avoid any “catastrophic consequences”, reviewing a range of non-traditional approaches that could be adopted to ensure sustainable funding for the agency, notably enhancing the funding role of regional groups and the private sector. 

UNRWA’s services must continue until a just and lasting solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees is achieved, in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, particularly Resolution 194, in the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of a two-state solution in accordance with international law and adopted terms of reference, Safadi said.

The minister also valued Kuwait and UK’s announcement about offering an additional support of $23 million to UNRWA to continue with providing its core essential services in the agency’s five areas of operation. 

Participants stressed that UNRWA’s programmes are “a critical component for regional development, stability and security”. 

Participants also reiterated that UNRWA must continue to operate in fulfillment of its UN mandate until a just solution to the refugees issue is found in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, including Resolution 194, and within the context of a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on the basis of the two-state solution.

The representatives of the participating countries renewed their support the agency’s mandate, stressing the need to translate the political support into financial support, to allow UNRWA to continue delivering its vital services to Palestinian refugees efficiently and without interruption, according to the statement. 

The participants also agreed to hold an international donors conference in the beginning of 2021 to ensure the sustainability of support.

The virtual dialogue hosted by Jordan and Sweden witnessed the participation of foreign ministers of Kuwait and Norway, in addition to the Japanese Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and high-level officials from France, the UK and Germany. 

The meeting was attended by UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

Lazzarini, during the dialogue, reviewed the main challenges facing UNRWA amid the regional political and economic instability, which has been aggravated by the COVID-19 crisis, pointing out that the agency needs sustainable funding for several years. 

 

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