I am pleased to represent the United States Government in expressing its support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). As we acknowledge next week the 60th anniversary of the passage of the resolution that called for establishment of UNRWA, the United States remains committed to supporting the agency’s critical mandate.
In 2009, the United States continued to be UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, providing nearly $268 million to support the education, health, relief, social and emergency needs of 4.7 million registered refugees in the region. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the Agency’s achievements and steadfast dedication to the welfare of Palestinian refugees. Over the past 60 years, the commitment of UNRWA’s staff has helped to better the lives of generations.
The United States remains concerned about the chronic shortfalls facing the organization. UNRWA faces a shortfall of $90 million in 2009. Furthermore, the Agency expects that it will face a deficit of $140 million against its core needs in 2010. UNRWA is confronting increased demands on its services at a time of record financial shortfalls and economic uncertainty. We commend UNRWA on developing a budget that clearly reflects UNRWA’s needs and, for the first time, is linked to meeting the organization’s medium-term strategic goals.
UNRWA requires adequate funding so that it can continue to provide quality services and meet the pressing needs of Palestinian refugees in the region. Pending the availability of funds, the United States intends to provide an early and significant contribution in 2010 and urges all UN Member States to consider robust contributions to UNRWA’s 2010 budget.
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