Queen Rania : “It’s Unthinkable for UNRWA to Cease to Exist and Work”

February 17, 2009

(Office of Her Majesty, Press Department-Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah met with the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) at an extraordinary session, Tuesday, to highlight the seriousness of the financial crisis of the agency and appeal to the international community to increase their funding.
“It’s unthinkable for UNRWA to cease to exist and work, all of us have witnessed the crisis that took place in Gaza since December; we couldn’t believe the extent of suffering, violence and disregard for international humanitarian law. But the one thing that was the little glimmer of light during this crisis was UNRWA. The civilian population wouldn’t have stood a chance if UNRWA didn’t exist”, she said.
“Over the past 60 years UNRWA has been a lifeline for Palestinian refugees; it’s been their teacher, doctor, providing them with food, clean water, medical supplies and assistance, without which the Palestinian people would have suffered tremendously”, Queen Rania added.
Applauding UNRWA’s efforts Her Majesty said: “We saw the commitment, strength and determination of UNRWA’s staff, working long hours despite the lack of sleep, showing incredible resourcefulness even when hospitals, schools and storage facilities were destroyed. Even when their own colleagues suffered from the violence and some of them were killed, they put their grief aside and focused on easing the suffering of the Palestinians with the very little resources available. We can all say that UNRWA staff who worked against all odds to bring some glimmer of hope to the Palestinians is our true hero. The international community owes a great debt to UNRWA”.
Queen Rania also noted that it is quite alarming to know that UNRWA is in financial jeopardy. If not addressed soon, many teachers and medical personnel will not be paid their salaries.
Her Majesty asserted on the importance of rebuilding schools: “Palestine is a place where there are many children, but few childhoods. In Gaza, over 60% of the population is under the age of 18, so schools are more than just a place to learn, they are a place for children to heal, to be fed, to be worm and to learn tolerance.
Queen Rania acknowledged the efforts and donations gathered by some countries to help UNRWA but noted that more needs to be done. “Although the world is facing a financial crisis, the survival of a whole population needs to be our number one priority”. Queen Rania also urged the delegates to call on their governments and institutions they represent to honor the pledges they made.
During the meeting, Her Majesty was given an overview by Karen Abu Zayd, UNRWA Commissioner General and the meeting chair, Mr. Tor Wennesland, who is the Head of the Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority on the situation in Gaza and the financial crisis UNRWA is currently facing.
Commenting on the latest public service announcement Her Majesty taped for UNRWA, Mr. Wennesland noted that the number of donations has increased due to Her Majesty’s endless efforts to secure needed support for UNRWA.