Statement by Dr. Nasser Al-Kidwa, Meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), 8 December 1999, United Nations, New York:

 Mr. President,

              On behalf of the observer delegation of Palestine, I wish to convey our deepest gratitude and appreciation to all the donor countries, who have so generously pledged much-needed assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East – UNRWA.  In light of the ongoing financial difficulties being experienced by the Agency, which have led to serious reductions in the level of services in recent years, the pledges made today, and their early fulfillment, will undoubtedly help the Agency to maintain essential programs and services in all its fields of operation.

 Since its establishment, UNRWA has played a crucial and historical role in halting the further deterioration of the conditions and situation of the Palestine refugees.    For nearly five decades, the Agency has been a vital component of the Middle East landscape, and its continued operation, with sufficient resources, is imperative for meeting the existing needs of the millions of Palestine refugees throughout the region.

 On this day, as we mark 50 years – a half a century – since the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 302 (IV) on 8 December 1949, establishing UNRWA, we wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those who have so capably led the Agency over the decades, including Commissioner-General Peter Hansen.  It is with the highest regard that we express to you our appreciation for your able leadership and dedication in guiding the important work of this Agency. 

At the same time, on behalf of the Palestinian people, my delegation wishes to convey heartfelt gratitude to all the women and men who have so devotedly served on UNRWA’s staff – in its clinics, schools, relief centers, training colleges, and community centers.   We recognize their important daily contributions and we express to them our appreciation.

 On this day, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of UNRWA’s establishment, we reflect on the Agency’s history as well as its current role and work in providing assistance to generations of Palestinian men, women, and children.  Yet, at the same time, we must look towards the future and continue to strive for the implementation of General Assembly resolution 194 (II) and a just resolution to the plight of the Palestine refugees, who have suffered for too long.