6 November 2012
H.E. Mr. Eshagh Al Habib
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations
on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement
Before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
on Item 52: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
New York, 6 November 2012
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement on this important agenda item. At the outset, I would like to express my gratitude to the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, Mr. Fillipo Grandi, for his valuable and highly appreciated efforts, particularly in light of the very difficult situation faced by the Agency in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, due to the ongoing violations by the occupying Power. We also thank Mr. Grandi for his report to the General Assembly and his detailed briefing to the Committee today on UNRWA’s activities over the past year.
For more than sixty years, UNRWA through its programs of Education, Health, Relief and social services to some 5 million registered Palestine Refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza has been the leading force in the efforts of the international community to contribute to the betterment of the living conditions of the Palestinian people and to the stability in the region. We reaffirm that UNRWA’s mandate and role are essential until the achievement of a just and lasting solution to the plight of the Palestine refugees, including their right to return and to fair compensation, on the basis of General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 1948.
The question of Palestine refugee, with millions still in camps in the region, is considered the longest case of refugeehood known to mankind. The root cause of suffering of the Palestine refugees is their uprooting and dispossession more than six decades ago by Israel, the occupying Power, which has since then continuously violated international law, including humanitarian and human rights law. NAM express its grave concern regarding the critical situation of the Palestine refugees, including in the camps in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and particularly in the Gaza Strip, who continue to suffer the constant violation of their human rights by the Israeli occupying forces, the endangerment of their safety by military raids, the severe impact of Israel’s illegal settlement colonization campaign, imprisonment and detention, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and continuous affronts to their human dignity.
NAM is deeply concerned about the killing, injury, harassment and intimidation of the Agency staff members by the Israeli occupying forces, and continuing imposition of restriction on the freedom of movement and access of Agency’s staff, vehicles and goods, which undermine and obstruct the work of the Agency, including its ability to provide essential basic and emergency services. The Movement condemns the Israel’s breaches of the inviolability of United Nations premises, its failure to accord the property and assets of the Organization immunity from any form of interference, and its failure to protect United Nations personnel, premises and property. In this regard, NAM calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to fully comply with its obligations under United Nations Charter, the Convention on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations in order to ensure the safety of the personnel of the Agency, the protection of its institutions and the safeguarding of the security of its facilities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
The illegal Israeli-imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has been steadily tightened since June 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation of the Palestinian people, including the Palestine refugees. The illegal Israeli blockade remains in force, still affecting the life of the entire Palestinian civilian population there, obstructing humanitarian aid and basic materials from reaching them, impeding reconstruction of the thousands of destructed homes and infrastructure, and obstructing economic and social recovery. The blockade also has had a destructive impact on the socio-economic and humanitarian conditions of the refugee community and on the work of the Agency there. The Movement calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to abide by its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention, relevant UN resolution, including Security Council resolution 1860 (2009), and fully end the illegal blockade of Gaza, and ensure the sustained and regular movement of persons and goods between Gaza and the outside world, which are essential for Agency to proceed with the reconstruction of thousands of devastated and damaged refugee shelters and infrastructure in the refugee camps.
NAM also expresses its grave concern regarding the critical situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, as a result of Israel’s continuing military occupation and illegal policies and practices, which are negatively impacting the situation of the Palestine refugees. Israel’s ongoing military raids and attacks against the Palestinian civilian population, settlement colonization campaign involving, inter alia, land confiscations, construction and expansion of settlements, transfer of Israeli settlers, construction of the Wall, home demolitions, imposition of severe movement restrictions and hundreds of checkpoints, detention and imprisonment of thousands of Palestinians, forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, and all other measures of collective punishment against the Palestinian people, constitute grave breaches of international law, including humanitarian and human rights law, harm the refugee population and continue to undermine UNRWA’s programs and activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. NAM calls on the international community to uphold its moral, political and legal responsibilities to bring an end to Israel’s illegal policies and all of its violations against the Palestinian people.
NAM reaffirms its gratitude to international community for its strong support of UNRWA and commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees and encourages all donors to continue to make the most generous efforts possible to help it overcome the serious financial shortfalls and large funding gaps it continues to face due to increased expenditures arising from the serious socio-economic and humanitarian situation and instability in the region. In this connection, NAM welcomes General Assembly resolution 65/272, which requested the Secretary General to continue to support the institutional strengthening of the Agency through the provision of financial resources from the regular budget of the United Nations.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate the Movement’s support for dedicated unwavering efforts exerted by UNRWA to provide assistance to the Palestine refugees in all fields of operation – Jordan, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Occupied Palestinian Territory – and in this regard also recognizes the important role and support of the host countries for UNRWA’s work and for the Palestine refugees for more than sixty years. The Movement underlines the necessity of addressing the current humanitarian crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and calls for intensification of efforts by the entire international community to achieve a settlement that guarantees an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, that began in 1967, and the independence of a sovereign and viable State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, as well as a just solution for the Palestine refugee problem on the basis of the principles of international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman