The critical role and the mandate of UNRWA must be protected

Today, the UN Security Council held an open briefing on the challenges faced by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The Agency is facing severe difficulties in providing humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, unpredictable funding jeopardizing its operations in general and restrictions to its work in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Slovenia reaffirmed its strong political and financial support to UNRWA’s work and condemned all attacks on the agency’s premises.

“We are discussing the critical work of drivers. Social workers. Nurses. Teachers. Sanitation workers. Engineers. Doctors. And other life-saving assistance providers. UNRWA staff members are the unsung heroes of the war in Gaza,” said Ambassador Samuel Žbogar in his opening remarks.

As emphasized by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini during the briefing, “the Agency is the backbone of the humanitarian operation, coordinating and providing lifesaving assistance. Beyond Gaza, it has championed human development for Palestine Refugees for decades across the region.”

Today, the Agency is confronting existential challenges and is denied permission to deliver humanitarian aid and save lives in Gaza. Thus, Slovenia underlined that UNRWA is mandated by the UN General Assembly – by an overwhelming majority of Member states – as a promise of a just solution of the Palestine refugee question and this needs to be respected. It represents a factor of stability in the region and a backbone of the humanitarian response in Gaza.

Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, following the 7 October 2023 attacks on Israel by Hamas, 178 UNRWA personnel have been killed and more than 160 UNRWA premises have been damaged or destroyed. Slovenia strongly condemned the attacks on UNRWA premises and the killing of humanitarian workers and called for accountability.

As underscored by Ambassador Žbogar, “Slovenia has stood by UNRWA and consequently by the civilians that it serves. We have maintained our financial and political support throughout this crisis and we will continue doing so. Žbogar welcomed the fact that a number of donors have reversed their decisions and resumed their financial support to the agency. He also called on new donors to come forward.

Concluding, Slovenia reiterated its call for an immediate ceasefire, the release of all hostages, removal of barriers to humanitarian aid, and the full implementation of resolutions 2728, 2720 and 2712.

Read the full statement here.

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