6 November 2013
Statement by H.E. Mr. Golamhossein Dehghani 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 51: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
New York, 6 November 2013
In the name of God, the companionate, the merciful
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on this important agenda item. Let me start by expressing my deep appreciation for the invaluable work performed by UNRWA in all fields of operations in assisting the Palestine refugees, including in light of very difficult situation faced by the Agency in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory, including East Jerusalem, due to the ongoing violations by the occupying Power. We also thank Mr. Grandi, the Commissioner General of UNRWA, for his report to the General Assembly and his detailed briefing to the Committee today on UNRWA’s activities over the past year.
UNRWA has been working for more than 60 years and providing humanitarian assistance and technical support to some 5 million registered Palestine Refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory. Despite increased challenges and instability in the region and a dire financial situation facing UNRWA, the Agency is effectively running education programs for young Palestinian girls and boys in more than 58 recognized refugee camps, delivering vital medical services throughout the camps and providing food and
immediate relief and social assistance, in particular for the abject poor and disabled people, as well as urgent emergency assistance where needed. 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.
NAM expresses its grave concern over the critical situation of the Palestine refugees, including those living in the camps in the OccupiedPalestinianTerritory and particularly in Gaza Strip. The Palestinian people are increasingly suffering from constant violation of their human rights by the Israeli occupying forces and the grave effects on Palestine refugees is attested to in the Commissioner-General’s report. The endangerment of their safety by military raids, the severe impact of Israel’s illegal settlement colonization campaign, the 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, including refugee families, and countless measures of collective punishment 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.
Such illegal Israeli policies and practices also negatively affect the ability of UNRWA to provide assistance to the Palestine refugees. Israel, the occupying Power, continues to impose unacceptable restrictions, in gross violation of the Charter of the United Nations and other International Conventions, on the freedom of movement of the Agency’s personnel, goods and vehicles, which have undermined its capacity to exercise its functions, including its ability to provide essential basic and emergency services. Israel, the occupying Power, must cease its breaches of the inviolability of United Nations premises, including of UNRWA, and cease its harassment and obstruction of the movement of UNRWA personnel and must fully comply with its obligations under the United Nations Charter, the Convention on the privileges and immunities of the United Nations in order to ensure the safety and security 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.
According to the recent report of the Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, the Gazan economy has been crippled by the blockade imposed over six years ago. 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. Israel, the occupying power, must 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 the Agency to proceed with the reconstruction of thousands of devastated and damaged refugee shelters and infrastructure in the refugee camps.
NAM also expresses its concerns regarding the situation of the Palestine refugees in Syria and the hardships and further displacement they are enduring in the prevailing situation, where thousands of Palestine refugees have fled to other countries for safety. NAM recognizes the added demands on UNRWA as a result of this situation, particularly the increasing need to provide emergency assistance to affected refugees, including shelter, medical treatment to wounded, food and financial support due to the loss of livelihoods.
Based on the report of the Commissioner-General of the UNRWA, the Agency is contending not only with chronic funding shortfalls, but also with acute funding uncertainties induced by economic and political volatility. While reaffirming its gratitude to international community for its strong support of UNRWA and its commitment to the rights of Palestine refugees, the Non-Aligned Movement 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, including due to increased expenditures arising from the serious socio-economic and humanitarian situation and instability in all fields of its operation 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 the unwavering efforts exerted by UNRWA to provide assistance to the Palestine refugees in all fields of operation, despite the many prevailing difficulties. 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, 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.