GENEVA / UNRWA US MIDDLE EAST PLAN

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31-Jan-2020 00:02:33
The acting chief UNRWA, Christian Saunders, said the plan released this week by the Trump administration for peace in the Middle East was “extremely unsettling for the Palestine refugees living under occupation, under blockade, and through conflict after conflict and crisis after crisis” and called on the international community to send them a “clear message” of solidarity. UNTV CH

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STORY: GENEVA / UNRWA US MIDDLE EAST PLAN
TRT: 2:33
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 31 JANUARY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

31 JANUARY 2020, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior
2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Christian Saunders, Acting Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
"The plan that was released this week is extremely unsettling for the Palestine refugees living under occupation, under blockade, and through conflict after conflict and crisis after crisis, hoping for justice and human rights, and with the constant fear that the international community will one day abandon them. Today, more than ever there is a need for stability and today the international community must send a clear message to Palestine refugees and to the world at large that the international community stands firmly behind them."
4. Wide shot, journalists
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Christian Saunders, Acting Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
“A lot of people, a lot of Palestinians, are in a state of shock at this point in time, in a state of disbelief over the Trump Peace plan, the US Peace plan. The coming days, the coming weeks and months will see how they respond to that.”
6. Med shot, dais
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Christian Saunders, Acting Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
“We are stretched to our limits under our shrinking budgets and the growing needs of Palestine refugees who are impacted by the same volatility and unpredictability that people face in the Middle East every day. In 2020, Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will continue to face a range of daunting human development and protection challenges. Central to these pressures is the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, the continuing conflict in Syria, the political crisis in Lebanon and the growing economic needs in Jordan, all of which continue to dramatically impact the lives of Palestine refugees.”
8. Med shot, journalists
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Christian Saunders, Acting Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):
“In 2018, UNRWA’s largest donor at that time, the United States, stopped funding us, cutting nearly one third of our budget. The repercussions on our finances and plans were huge, but the support we received from our member states and the partners was phenomenal, and a true testament to the continued international commitment to Palestine refugee. This incredible support allowed us to continue to provide vital services and protection to Palestine refugees, despite the potential implications of this loss of funding.”
10. Wide shot, press room
11. Med shot, photographers
12. Wide shot, press room
13. Med shot, photographers
14. Med shot, journalists
15. Med shot, journalist

STORYLINE:

After the release of the US Middle East peace plan earlier this week, a lot of Palestinians are “in a state of shock at this point”, said Christian Saunders, acting Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) today (31 Jan) at the United Nations in Geneva.

Speaking to the press Saunders said that “the plan that was released this week is extremely unsettling for the Palestine refugees living under occupation, under blockade, and through conflict after conflict and crisis after crisis, hoping for justice and human rights, and with the constant fear that the international community will one day abandon them”.

He added that “today, more than ever, there is a need for stability and today the international community must send a clear message to Palestine refugees and to the world at large that the international community stands firmly behind them”.

UNRWA is the UN agency mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide protection and assistance to some 5.6 million Palestine refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank including East Jerusalem.

US President Trumps Middle East Peace Plan, presented last Tuesday (28.01.), proposed an independent Palestinian state, the recognition of Israeli sovereinty over West Bank settlements and to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital. The plan was seen as heavily biased towards Israel and provoked protests of thousands of Palestinians rejecting it.

“A lot of people, a lot of Palestininas, are in a state of shock at this point in time, in a state of disbelief over the Trump Peace plan, the US Peace plan. The coming days, the coming weeks and months will see how they respond to that”, Saunders said.

UNRWA’s interim Commissioner Saunders came to Geneva to launch an appeal to donors to fund UNRWA’s 2020 budget with a minimum of US$ 1.4 billion for the 5,6 million registered refugees across the Middle East for this year.

“We are stretched to our limits under our shrinking budgets and the growing needs of Palestine refugees who are impacted by the same volatility and unpredictability that people face in the Middle East every day”, Saunders said. “In 2020, Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will continue to face a range of daunting human development and protection challenges. Central to these pressures is the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the blockade of Gaza, the continuing conflict in Syria, the political crisis in Lebanon and the growing economic needs in Jordan, all of which continue to dramatically impact the lives of Palestine refugees”.

Of the required US$ 1.4 billion, the Agency will use US$ 806 million for essential core services. UNRWA will be able to provide education to over half a million girls and boys in some 700 schools across the region, and enable 8.5 million patient visits in its health facilities, like it did in 2019.

UNRWA has faced severe funding difficulties after President Trump’s decision in 2018 to suspend entirely the US contribution to the agency’s budget, cutting nearly one third of the entire budget.

“In 2018, UNRWA’s largest donor at that time, the United States, stopped funding us, cutting nearly one third of our budget. The repercussions on our finances and plans were huge, but the support we received from our member states and partners was phenomenal, and a true testament to the continued international commitment to Palestine refugee. This incredible support allowed us to continue to provide vital services and protection to Palestine refugees, despite the potential implications of this loss of funding”.

Since 1949 UNRWA has been mandated by the UN General Assembly to provide protection and essential services to Palestinian refugees until there is a just and lasting solution based on international law and relevant UN resolutions.
UNRWA’s humanitarian services encompass primary and vocational training, primary health care, infrastructure and camp improvement to Palestinian refugees.
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