Palestinian senior official urges int'l community to support UN relief agency

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-17 22:54:57|Editor: yan
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RAMALLAH, Aug 17 (Xinhua) -- Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat on Saturday urged the international community to keep supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

According to a statement by Erekat's office, he sent such message to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC), Arab League and three European countries that have suspended aid to UNRWA, urging them not to politicize humanitarian assistance.

His message comes ahead of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly meetings scheduled for September in New York and expected to discuss the renewal of the UNRWA's mandate.

"Half a million Palestinian children who depend on your regular contributions cannot suspend their classes until the results of the investigation," said Erekat.

Addressing foreign ministers of the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland, Erekat expressed his regret of the three countries' decisions to halt aid to the UNRWA on the basis of unconfirmed reports of corruption in the UN agency.

"We expect that you and all peace-loving states to take concrete measures of accountability to promote the realization of the long-awaited inalienable rights of the people of Palestine, particularly the right to self-determination," he said.

Suffering from severe financial difficulties for several years, the UNRWA last year complained of a budget deficit of 49 million U.S. dollars, particularly after the United States stopped its aid to the agency.

The UNRWA has more than 700 schools serving almost 525,000 children and offers healthcare for some 3.5 million refugees through a network of 150 clinics.

In addition, the agency's food and cash assistance program offers some 1.7 million dollars to extremely vulnerable refugees.

Throughout the region, the UNRWA serves over 5 million Palestinian refugees.