November 23, 2017

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Cyprus Mr. James Droushiotis to the 4th Committee – United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East Mr. Peter Hansen for his comprehensive Report on the Agency’s activities during the past year and for his excellent introductory statement.

We wish to express our great appreciation to UNRWA which through its programs of Education, Health, and Relief and Social Services to 3.6 million Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and West Bank and Gaza contributes to the betterment of the living conditions of the Palestinian people and to the stability in the region.

Cyprus as an EU Associate State has aligned itself with the statement made by the Representative of Finland on behalf of the European Union.

Moreover, as a country in the area sharing close and friendly ties with our Near East neighbors we attach great importance to the enhancement of the economic and social conditions of the Palestinian people and to the achievement of lasting peace and security in the Middle East. To this end, UNRWA’s work is crucially important.

It is from our own experience of displacement that we can deeply appreciate the significance of assistance to alleviate human misery and to create the conditions, short and long term, for socio-economic development. We are also keenly aware of the permanent and inalienable right of return to one’s home and properties as set out in UN resolutions and international law.

In placing high value on UNRWA’s activities and the importance of its work, we wish to praise highly the Commissioner General and his staff, who have carried out their tasks with commitment and dedication. We note with serious concern, as reported to us by the Commissioner General, the difficulties that the Agency is encountering in carrying out its programs due to the critical financial situation facing the Agency. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has also underlined this situation in his Report on the Work of the organization and has drawn attention that the Agency’s continuing financial deficit has inevitably had a negative effect on the level and standard of services.

In light of these circumstances and taking into account the positive efforts of management and other reforms of the Commissioner General, it also remains necessary that UNRWA’s operations be put on a secure financial footing and we join the appeals for additional and increased contributions with early payment to UNRWA to alleviate this situation so that the Agency can fulfill its work.

Convinced that one of the fundamental prerequisites for lasting peace and stability is the attainment of higher standards of living and a better quality of life for all peoples of the region, Cyprus has joined international efforts aiming at the economic advancement of the Palestinian People. To this end, apart from cash contributions to UNRWA, Cyprus has developed its own Scheme of Assistance to the Palestinians, which includes the construction of two medical centers in the West Bank and a programme of technical assistance and training to Palestinian officials in Cyprus.

We welcome the renewal of the peace process as recently marked by the Agreement signed in Egypt on the implementation of the Wye River Accord. We reiterate our firm commitment to a just and comprehensive Middle East settlement based on UN resolutions. We would wish to underline the importance of a sound economy to social and political stability for the Palestinian people, which is crucial to the achievement of peace.

 

Mr. Chairman,

Soon the UN will mark the 50th year of the establishment of UNRWA, under resolution 302 of the General Assembly. It will indeed be a somber event. It will in part importantly underline the need for compliance with UN resolutions and international law, in the quest of a just and lasting settlement of international problems and the plight which refugees bear. We once again stress the indispensable role of the Agency and praise their important work in rendering relief and assistance to the Palestine refugees.

 

Thank you Mr. Chairman.