KUWAIT: Ambassadors of Kuwait, Jordan and Slovenia to the UN launch an initiative to support the UNRWA. — KUNA
KUWAIT: Ambassadors of Kuwait, Jordan and Slovenia to the UN launch an initiative to support the UNRWA. — KUNA

Kuwait launches initiative to politically support UNRWA

EU’s Borrell commends efforts to back organization spearheaded by Kuwait, Slovenia and Jordan

NEW YORK: Ambassadors of Kuwait, Jordan, and Slovenia to the UN launched an initiative to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

In a press statement, Jordan’s permanent envoy to the UN Mahmoud Hmoud noted “the numerous operational, political and financial challenges” that UNRWA faced especially in recent months.

Hmoud spoke of UNRWA’s “vital role in providing life-saving humanitarian assistance and human development services to generations of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory” as well as in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. He added that “it is important for countries to reaffirm their support for the work of the agency and its indispensable role in providing assistance and relief and send signals of strong political support for UNRWA.”

He listed several aspects that would be addressed in the initiative, including “UNRWA’s role in Gaza and for regional stability to its financial crisis, questions relating to the principles of neutrality, recognition of the tireless efforts of UNRWA’s staff, the importance of cooperation with the agency and other aspects.”

Kuwait has always been a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause and the UNRWA. Last April, Kuwait announced a voluntary contribution to the UNRWA worth $30 million and renewed calls for the recognition of Palestine as a full UN member.

“Kuwait is Palestine, Palestine is Kuwait, Kuwait’s membership in the United Nations is Palestine’s membership, your concerns are our concerns, and your challenges are our challenges,” said Kuwait’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Faisal Al-Enezi after making the announcement.

EU reinstates funding

Josep Borrell, the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy and vice-president of the European Commission, said that he commends the initiative in favor of UNRWA, describing it as “an indispensable lifeline in Gaza and in the region.” “All EU donors have now resumed their support to the Agency, still in critical financial situation. We have to step up our support; the needs are only growing,” he said in a statement on X.

Allegations by the Zionist entity of the involvement of UNRWA staff in the October 7 Hamas attack led major donors in January to cut their funding to the agency. At the end of April, Germany said it would restore cooperation and funding to UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip after an independent review said the entity had not provided evidence to back up its claims.

Germany’s decision followed those made earlier by several other major donors, including Australia, Canada, Sweden and Japan, to restore ties with the UN agency. Last week, Austria also said it would restore its funding to UNRWA. A total of $3.7 million in funds have been budgeted for 2024, and the first payment is expected to be made in the summer, Austria’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

A ‘significant step’

Palestine’s UN envoy Riyad Mansour welcomed the Kuwaiti-Jordanian-Slovenian initiative. “The indispensable role UNRWA has played and continues to play is only possible with the international community’s support for its general assembly mandate.” Emphasizing that UNRWA not only needs financial support but also political support, Mansour said the initiative is a “significant step.”

“We urge action to uphold UNRWA’s mandate in all fields of operation in Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, to enable continued delivery of its core services, and life-saving aid that have for decades contributed to the welfare and development of Palestine refugees,” he added. Expressing hopes to garner strong support for the initiative, Jordan’s permanent envoy to the UN Hmoud said that he and his Kuwaiti and Slovenian counterparts, Ambassadors Tariq Al-Bannai and Samuel Zbogar, will send a letter to ambassadors of member countries inviting them to join the initiative. — Agencies

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