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PV 08/02/2018 - 12.12
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Thursday, 8 February 2018 - Strasbourg
Situation of UNRWA

European Parliament resolution of 8 February 2018 on the situation of UNRWA (2018/2553(RSP))

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on the Middle East Peace Process,

–  having regard to the Joint Declaration of the European Union and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of 7 June 2017 on European Union support to UNRWA (2017-2020),

–  having regard to UN General Assembly resolutions 194 of 11 December 1948 and 302 of 8 December 1949, and to other relevant UN resolutions,

–  having regard to the report of the UN Secretary-General of 30 March 2017 entitled ‘Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East’,

–   having regard to Rule 123(2) and (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas UNRWA is a UN agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees; whereas UNRWA’s services encompass education, healthcare, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance; whereas the UN General Assembly has renewed UNRWA’s mandate many times, most recently until 30 June 2020 by a vote of 167 UN member states;

B.  whereas the EU and its Member States, taken together, are the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing EUR 441 million in 2017; whereas the United States, as the largest single-country donor, has announced that it will contribute USD 60 million but withhold USD 65 million from a scheduled payment of USD 125 million to UNRWA; whereas this decision was, according to the State Department, intended to encourage other countries to increase aid as well as to promote reform within the Agency;

C.  whereas UNRWA has been facing major structural financial shortcomings for many years and would have faced continued difficulties in 2018 independently of the decision of the US government;

D.  whereas in his report of 30 March 2017 the UN Secretary-General made several recommendations aimed at ensuring adequate, predictable and sustainable funding for UNRWA;

1.  Remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA in its provision of vital services for the wellbeing, protection and human development of Palestine refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria; applauds UNRWA for its extraordinary efforts, including inprotecting and supporting more than 400 000 Palestine refugees, and many others, in war-torn Syria; recalls that UNRWA was established in the spirit of solidarity with Palestine refugees in order to alleviate their suffering;

2.  Expresses its concern at UNRWA’s funding crisis; urges all donors to honour their promises to the Agency;

3.  Notes that any unexpected reductions or delays in predicted donor disbursements to UNRWA can have damaging impacts on access to emergency food assistance for 1,7 million Palestine refugees and primary healthcare for 3 million, on access to education for more than 500 000 Palestinian children in 702 UNRWA schools, including almost 50 000 children in Syria, and on stability in the region;

4.  Notes that the EU is committed to continue assisting UNRWA in securing financial resources to enable it to implement the mandate given by the UN General Assembly, to operate on a sustainable and cost-effective basis and to ensure the quality and level of services provided to Palestine refugees;

5.  Welcomes the decisions made by the EU and several of its Member States to fast-track funding to UNRWA and urges other donors to follow this example; urges the United States to reconsider its decision and to honour the payment of its entire scheduled contribution to the Agency; welcomes the contributions of member states of the Arab League to UNRWA, but calls on them to increase their commitment in order to close the funding gap;

6.  Encourages the European Union and its Member States to mobilise additional funding for UNRWA in order to meet its short-term financial needs; stresses, however, that any long-term solution to the recurrent financial shortages of the Agency can only be achieved through a sustainable funding scheme in a global multilateral framework; urges the EU to play a leading role in the international community to establish such a mechanism; underlines the importance of the recommendations made by the UN Secretary-General in his report of 30 March 2017 in this regard;

7.  Welcomes the fact that UNRWA envisages sustaining internal measures aimed at containing costs and achieving further efficiency gains while pursuing other areas where efficiencies may be possible; urges the Agency to continue to improve its management structure and strategic planning towards enhanced transparency, accountability and internal oversight, to ensure timely and accurate programme and financial reporting to the EU, to ensure that UNRWA facilities are not misused, to investigate allegations of neutrality violations by its staff members and to take appropriate disciplinary action where appropriate; stresses the importance of respecting the neutrality of UNRWA installations in line with international humanitarian law and the UN diplomatic status of the Agency;

8.  Reiterates that the EU’s main objective is to achieve the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, with the secure State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian State living side by side in peace and security, on the basis of the right of self-determination and full respect for international law;

9.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, the Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, and the Congress and State Department of the United States.

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