UNRWA plans to delegate services for Palestinians to other organizations

A Palestinian woman sits with a child after receiving food supplies from the United Nations' offices at the United Nations' offices in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
A Palestinian woman sits with a child after receiving food supplies from the United Nations' offices at the United Nations' offices in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
Short Url
Updated 25 April 2022

UNRWA plans to delegate services for Palestinians to other organizations

A Palestinian woman sits with a child after receiving food supplies from the United Nations' offices at the United Nations' offices in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. (AFP file photo)
  • The sixth international conference on Syria will be organised in early May in Brussels to discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees in Syria and their return to the demolished houses in the Yarmouk refugees camp

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians are profoundly concerned by UNRWA Commissioner-General’s declarations that the organization will delegate its humanitarian services for 5 million Palestinian refugees living in 58 refugees camps to other organizations to overcome its severe financial crisis, Palestinian sources confirmed to Arab News on Sunday.

The UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a letter to the Palestinian refugees dated April 23: “This year, a very harsh winter and the impact of the war in Ukraine on prices of food and fuel in the region add to the daily hardship you are facing. I witnessed this firsthand a few days ago when I met with Palestine refugees in Khan Danoun Camp and Yarmouk in Syria, many refugees shared with me their struggle to meet their basic needs and how the socio-economic situation compels them to return to live amid the rubble in Yarmouk.”

He indicated the economic hardship the Palestinian refugees suffer in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan and Lebanon, due to security and unstable economic situations in those countries.

“The painful reality is that in the last ten years, and despite immense outreach and fundraising efforts, the resources available to UNRWA have stagnated, while the needs of Palestine refugees and cost of operations keep increasing,” Lazzarini said. “The now chronic underfunding of UNRWA is the result of a combination of shifting geopolitical priorities, new regional dynamics and the emergence of new humanitarian crises compounded by donor fatigue for one of the world’s longest unresolved conflicts. All these have led to a clear de-prioritization of the Palestinian issue, including most recently among some donors from the Arab region.”

HIGHLIGHT

The international organization has provided its services to 7 million Palestinian refugees living in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon since 1948, with a noticeable reduction in the quality and quantity of those services.

The international organization has provided its services to 7 million Palestinian refugees living in Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon since 1948, with a noticeable reduction in the quality and quantity of those services.

“UNRWA has also increasingly been exposed to domestic politics in some of its traditional donor countries. Coordinated campaigns by organizations that aim to delegitimise and defund the Agency and erode the rights of Palestine refugees have increased in frequency and aggressivity,” the letter said.

Meanwhile, the UNRWA Commissioner-General toured several countries recently to recruit financial resources to enable the UNRWA to continue providing its services to Palestinian refugees, but no information regarding the outcome of his tour.

The sixth international conference on Syria will be organised in early May in Brussels to discuss the issue of Palestinian refugees in Syria and their return to the demolished houses in the Yarmouk refugees camp. In June, the Advisory Commission on UNRWA is gathering its major donors and hosts in Lebanon to discuss fundraising for the UN agency.

The Palestinians view with concern any step that affects the status and role of the UNRWA, transforming the Palestinian refugee issue into an issue of relief services, health and education and ignoring its political dimension related to the right of refugees to return to their homes from which they were displaced, with compensation.

The Joint Refugee Committee called on the UNRWA Commissioner-General to search for creative and innovative ideas on recruiting financial support to fund services and not to search for ideas that intersect with the American and Israeli proposals that call for the gradual termination of UNRWA.

The PLO Department of Refugee Affairs categorically rejected the ideas contained in the letter. It said in a press statement on Sunday: “We express our shock at what was stated in the UNRWA Commissioner-General’s letter about his acceptance of transferring some of UNRWA’s powers to other international organizations to carry out them on its behalf, as one of the options presented to ensure the continuity of its services to Palestinian refugees without the threat of interruption due to UNRWA’s lack of financial resources.”

The Head of the Refugee Affairs Department at the PLO, Ahmed Abu Holy, said that “it is not within the authority of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA to propose solutions to address the financial deficit in the UNRWA budget that affects UNRWA’s work mandate, and he does not have the mandate to transfer UNRWA’s powers to other international organizations under the slogans of partnerships and synergy with UNRWA, whose slogans carry in its secret political dimensions to liquidate UNRWA and transfer its powers to international organizations and the governments of the host countries.”

He said that the Palestinian leadership is consulting with all concerned parties, including UNRWA, donor countries and members of the Advisory Committee, in search of innovative models for boosting UNRWA’s financial resources by finding new funders, urging traditional donors to increase their funding and communicating with international organizations, such as the World Bank, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and not by transferring the powers of UNRWA to other international organizations.

He said the commissioner-general’s proposal for solutions could not be justified, knowing that it would prompt adverse reactions from Palestinian refugees, UNRWA staff and host countries.

He called on the UN to allocate an independent budget to UNRWA, similar to other United Nations institutions, to ensure the continuation of its relief and operational services to Palestinian refugees until a just solution is found.

The commissioner-general’s letter came three weeks before the Palestinian commemoration of the Nakba, the Palestinian Catastrophe, on May 15.


Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
Updated 11 August 2022

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN

Palestinian Authority to seek full membership at UN
  • President Mahmoud Abbas to make the case for enhanced status at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23

RAMALLAH: Palestinian leaders have launched a new diplomatic drive to obtain full membership of the UN.

The campaign will culminate with a landmark speech by President Mahmoud Abbas at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23, in which he will make the case for enhanced status.

“In the absence of a political path and hope for the Palestinians to end the occupation, they have no choice but to resort to the UN to enhance the status of Palestine as a state and the Palestinians as a people on their land under occupation,” Palestinian government spokesman Ibrahim Melhem told Arab News on Wednesday.

The UN granted Palestine non-member observer state status at a historic vote in the General Assembly in November 2012, when 138 countries voted in favor, 9 opposed it, and 41 abstained. The resolution included “the hope that the Security Council will consider positively” accepting the request for full membership. Abbas submitted this in September 2011, but it fell in the Security Council because the US threatened to use its veto.

Fatah official Sabri Saidem told Arab News that France had encouraged the Palestinians to demand full membership of the UN, and Sweden and Ireland had expressed their unconditional support for the move. He said the Palestinians would now seek more Arab and international support.

UN membership was “a long-awaited entitlement, especially with the continued Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people, the failure of US President Joe Biden’s administration to implement its vision in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and double standards when it comes to Palestine and Ukraine," he said.

 

 


Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital
Updated 11 August 2022

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

Heavy rains collapse 10 historic buildings in Yemeni capital

SANAA, Yemen: Heavy rains lashing Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, which dates back to ancient times, have in recent days collapsed 10 buildings in the Old City, the country’s Houthi rebels said Wednesday.
At least 80 other buildings have been heavily damaged in the rains and are in need of urgent repairs, said the rebels, who have controlled Sanaa since the outbreak of Yemen’s civil war more than eight years ago.
The Old City of Sanaa is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the area believed to have been inhabited for more than 2 millennia. Its architecture is unique, with foundations and first stories built of stone, and subsequent stories out of brick — deemed to be some of the world’s first high-rises.
The buildings have red brick facades adorned with white gypsum molding in ornate patterns, drawings comparisons to gingerbread houses — a style that has come to symbolize Yemen’s capital. Many of the houses are still private homes and some are more than 500 years old.
In a statement, Abdullah Al-Kabsi, the culture minister in the Houthi administration, said the rebels are working with international organizations and seeking help in dealing with the destruction. There were no immediate reports of dead or injured from the collapses.
The houses had withstood centuries but this season’s intense rains have proved too much for the iconic structures. Bricks and wooden beams now make for massive piles of rubble in between still-standing structures.
The rains show no signs of letting up.
“I get scared when I hear the rain and pray to God because I am afraid that my house will collapse over me,” Youssef Al-Hadery, a resident of the Old City said.


Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
Updated 10 August 2022

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows

Yemen has enough wheat for two-and-a-half months, document shows
  • Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia
  • Importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemeni ports

ADEN: Yemen has secured enough wheat to cover two-and-a-half months of consumption, a commerce ministry document dated Aug. 4 showed, as global disruptions and local currency instability risk deepening the war-torn country’s hunger crisis.
A review by the internationally recognized government in Aden showed 176,400 tons of wheat available — 70,400 stockpiled and 106,000 booked for August/September delivery — according to the document.
This is in addition to 32,300 tons of wheat available from the United Nations, which feeds some 13 million people a month in Yemen, the document showed.
Yemen is grappling with a dire humanitarian crisis that has left millions hungry in the seven-year conflict that divided the country and wrecked the economy. Yemen imports 90 percent of its food, and 45 percent of its wheat needs came from Ukraine and Russia.
HSA Group, one of Yemen’s largest food conglomerates, said it had booked around 250,000 tons of wheat from Romania and France, sufficient to supply the market until mid-October, and that it is looking to secure a further 110,000 tons.
“Following the announcement of the Ukraine grain deal, we are currently looking to secure Ukrainian wheat for the Yemeni market if it remains affordable and accessible,” an HSA spokesperson, who declined to be named, told Reuters.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered a deal last month to restart exports from Ukraine, cut off since Russia’s February invasion, which could ease grain shortages that have driven up global prices. So far, however, there have not been any shipments of wheat.
Yemeni importers are unable to store significant amounts of wheat due to infrastructure limitations at Yemen ports and the country’s limited storage capacity, the HSA spokesperson said, and therefore the firm books new shipments every 2-3 weeks depending on availability and global prices.
Another issue facing importers is Yemen’s foreign reserves shortage and a serious devaluation of the currency in some parts of the country, where food price inflation has soared.
The Aden-based central bank has put in place an auction mechanism to ease access to foreign currency, but no import financing mechanism is currently in place to support the market.


Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
Updated 10 August 2022

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast

Order to seize Lebanon MPs’ property over port blast
  • The decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two MPs
  • Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought

BEIRUT: Judicial authorities in Lebanon Wednesday ordered the temporary seizure of the property of two deputies in the case of the deadly explosion which destroyed Beirut port two years ago.
“Judge Najah Itani has issued a temporary seizure order worth 100 billion Lebanese pounds on the property of MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zeaiter,” a judicial source told AFP.
The source said the decision was issued in the context of a complaint filed by the Beirut Bar Association to question the two for having “used their rights... in an arbitrary manner by filing complaints intended to hinder the investigation.”
Compensation of 100 billion Lebanese pounds is being sought.
On Thursday, crisis-hit Lebanon marked two years since the massive port blast ripped through Beirut.
The dockside blast of haphazardly stored ammonium nitrate, one of history’s biggest non-nuclear explosions, killed more than 200 people, wounded thousands and decimated vast areas of the capital.
After the tragedy, the bar launched legal proceedings against the state on behalf of nearly 1,400 families of victims.
However, an investigation into the cause has been stalled amid political interference and no state official has yet been held accountable over the tragedy.
Khalil and Zeaiter, of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal party, filed a total of 20 complaints against Judge Tareq Bitar for obstructing the investigation which he himself was carrying out.
Politicians on all sides have refused to be questioned by the judge.
Officials close to the powerful Hezbollah movement have also curtailed Bitar’s work with a series of lawsuits.
His investigation has been paused since December 23.
On Thursday’s second anniversary of the blast, relatives of victims demanded an international inquiry.


Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
Updated 10 August 2022

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south

Syria says Daesh leader killed in south
  • Security forces carried out a "special operation" in the Daraa area that led to the death of "the terrorist Abu Salem al-Iraqi"
  • The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country's south

DAMASCUS: A leader of Daesh group blew himself up in southern Syria after being surrounded by government forces, state media reported on Wednesday, citing a security source.
The official SANA news agency said security forces carried out a “special operation” in the Daraa area that led to the death of “the terrorist Abu Salem Al-Iraqi.”
Iraqi “triggered his explosive belt after being surrounded and wounded,” the agency said.
The security source said Iraqi had been the military chief of the extremist group in the country’s south.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, which has a vast network of sources on the ground, said Iraqi died on Tuesday.
It said he had been hiding out in the area since 2018, and had taken part in killings and attacks there.
Daraa province has mostly been under regime control since 2018, but rebel groups still control some areas under a truce deal agreed with Russia, an ally of Damascus.
After a meteoric rise in 2014 in Iraq and Syria that saw it conquer vast swathes of territory, Daesh saw its self-proclaimed “caliphate” collapse under a wave of offensives.
It was defeated in Iraq in 2017 and in Syria two years later, but sleeper cells of the extremist Sunni Muslim group still carry out attacks in both countries.
Syria’s war began in 2011 and has killed nearly half a million people and forced around half of the country’s pre-war population from their homes.