Thank you Mr. Chairman,
The United States remains steadfast in its support for the important work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Thanks to the support of key donors and host governments, UNRWA’s humanitarian programs – including education, health, relief and social services – have improved the lives of millions.
The United States continues to be the largest bilateral donor to UNRWA. In 2011, the U.S. contributed a total of $249 million to UNRWA programs, including $145 million to the General Fund to support core programs in education, health, and social services, $75 million for UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, $15 million for reconstruction and relief activities in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared Camp (NA-her al BAR-ed), and $10.3 million to construct five new schools in Gaza.
We applaud this year’s new donors, and note in particular the significant contributions to UNRWA’s core budget by the Republic of Iraq and Brazil.
The United States commends UNRWA’s Sustaining Change initiative and Resource Mobilization Strategy to cope with the financial deficits through improved efficiencies and increased fundraising. Despite these initiatives and generous contributions from many donors, the financial situation remains precarious. Therefore, it is long overdue for all Advisory Commission members – donors, hosts, and UNRWA – together to take a hard look at the level of UNRWA’s future operations and the priorities in providing quality services. We must come together as partners to make these difficult decisions and address the chronic budget gaps. The United States is ready to actively participate in such an effort.
Pending the availability of funds, the United States intends to provide an early and significant contribution in 2012 and urges all UN Member States to consider robust contributions to UNRWA’s 2012 core budget as a priority and a matter of urgency, as well as to generously contribute to its Emergency Appeals and other projects.
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