Palestinians mark 60th anniversary of aid body 25Sep09 September 26, 2009

Sixty years on, UNRWA still helping 4.6 million Palestinian refugees – victims of Israel.

Middle East Online  -  25 September 2009


UNITED NATIONS – The international community Thursday paid tribute to the UN relief organization UNRWA marking 60 years since it was founded to help Palestinians caught up in the Middle East conflict.

“I wish there was no need for UNRWA. I wish there was no anniversary to mark and I wish that there were not 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in need of humanitarian aid,” said Jordan’s Queen Rania, who is also Palestinian.

“But, you and I know, the reality is very different. Theirs is a life interrupted… a life half lived,” she told a ceremony marking the body’s anniversary.

The creation of Israel in 1948 led to the expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians from the land, a third of whom now live in camps dotted around the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Jordan.

“UNRWA’s presence reminds the Palestinian people that they are not alone; that in their darkest hours, an international aid agency stands by their side, added the Jordanian queen.

“So, I want to record my deep gratitude to the tireless staff at UNRWA, people who have, and continue to endure indescribable hardship and danger, and risk their lives to help Palestinian refugees every day.”

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas also hailed UNRWA’s six decades of work in the Palestinian territories and urged the international community to step up for support for the UN-funded organization.

“The humanitarian assistance provided by UNRWA to the Palestine refugees throughout the region has proven to be indispensable for the welfare of the refugees as well as for the stability of the region as a whole, including and especially during periods of conflict, crisis and upheaval,” he said.

Queen Rania also warned that the agency was on the brink of collapse through lack of funds.

“If we let UNRWA collapse, it will be the youngest that bear the greatest weight,” she warned.

“If we let UNRWA collapse, we risk fueling frustrations, losing focus for peace talks and destabilizing our region further. There is so much at stake. All of us depend on UNRWA.”


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