India has pledged to contribute USD 5 million in 2019 to theUN Palestine refugee agency, even as it voiced concern over the agency'sdifficult financial situation due to voluntary contributions from a limiteddonor base and called for ensuring sustained fiscal support for its work.
India's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN AmbassadorK Nagaraj Naidu said the Government of India has increased its annual financialcontribution fourfold to the UNRWA core budget, from USD 1.25 million in 2016to USD 5 million in 2018.
He was speaking last week at a meeting of the GeneralAssembly Ad Hoc Committee for Voluntary Contributions to United Nations Reliefand Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) that as a markof India's solidarity with the Palestine refugees.
"We pledge to contribute USD 5 million in 2019, at thesame level as in 2018," Naidu said.
He noted that there is a projected shortfall of more thanUSD 200 million against a funding requirement of approximately USD 1.2 billionfor UNRWA this year, causing concerns in the Agency about its ability toprovide essential services to the Palestine refugees.
"Almost all of the UNRWA's resources come fromvoluntarily contributions, with a limited donor base. This arrangement isfraught with uncertainties and could cause sudden crisis like the current one.Access to adequate predictable resources is the way forward," he said.
Naidu emphasised that UNRWA's difficult financial situationhas caused concern and has put to risk the Agency's core services to thePalestine refugees, notably in the fields of education, health, and assistanceto the most vulnerable refugees.
India made a strong appeal to other traditional donors ofUNRWA to consider enhancing their contributions and non-donor member states toconsider contributing to UNRWA in solidarity with the Palestine refugees.
A total of 23 donors announced contributions, or theirintention to contribute, to the UNRWA's 2019 budget during the meeting of theAd Hoc Committee, established by the General Assembly as the primary forum forannouncing financial support.
UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief andsocial services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, across its fivefields of operation – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip –since 1950. The Agency currently serves 5.4 million Palestinian refugees – 20 percent of the world's refugees.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres noted that millions ofchildren have benefited from an UNRWA education and the Agency has providedfundamental services for millions more but the current funding shortfall willonly grow unless Member States act soon.
Naidu underscored India's support for UNRWA's work which isproviding assistance to about 5.4 million Palestine refugees to help themachieve their full human development potential.
As part of the Government of India's ongoing assistanceprogrammes in Palestine to strengthen capacity-building efforts focused oninstitutions, services and training personnel, the country is providing 150places for Palestinian professionals every year under the Indian Technical andEconomic Cooperation programme.
In addition, during the last five years, under anIndia-Palestine development partnership, 17 agreements have been signed in thefields of agriculture, health care, information technology, youth affairs,consular affairs, women's empowerment and media.