GENEVA / PALESTINIAN REFUGEES APPEAL

30-Jan-2018 00:02:55
Launching an emergency appeal for funds today in Geneva, Pierre Krähenbühl the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said the agency is in “the most serious financial crisis ever.” UNTV CH
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STORY: GENEVA / PALESTINIAN REFUGEES APPEAL
TRT: 2:55
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH /NATS

DATELINE: 30 JANUARY 2018, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
SHOTLIST
1. Wide shot, exterior, Palais des Nations
2. Close up, reporter
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General:
“The emergency appeal that were presented this morning represents just over 400 million US Dollars for Syria, and just under 400 million Dollars for West Bank and Gaza. Those are for emergency response, food, cash, additional emergency medical supplies, in particular also mental health support and gender-based violence related activities. So, we have that range that we are of course, appealing to the international community for response to”.
4. Close up, brochure UNRWA
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General:
“Evidently, that is a very severe and dramatic change in the parameters of funding from the United States who has been an absolute stable, predictable and most generous contributor to UNRWA over decades. It has been the single largest donor to the agency for very, very many years, and where consensus existed, bi-partisan consensus, that whatever the disagreements and opinions there were in the bi-lateral level between the US and the Palestinian authority or Palestinian leaderships, there would also be support to the refugee community. This element of course, is now at risk and represents for UNRWA a very significant additional shortfall which puts at risk and what is at stake is the access, as I said of 500,000 boys and girls to education at a very time when everybody is concerned about further risks of radicalization in the Middle East”.
6. Med shot, journalist
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General:
“When you think of the accumulative impact in psycho-social terms of three wars in the recent decade, if you think of all of the constraints in the sense of deprivation that faces the community, you have what our colleagues in the health sector in the Gaza strip call an ‘epidemic deterioration of psycho-social conditions’ and this is certainly I cannot see in the interest of anybody at regional level to allow this to continue”.
8. Med shot, journalists
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Pierre Krähenbühl, UNRWA Commissioner-General:
“So UNRWA will not give up and we will take this as a huge challenge which it is but we will also take it as the opportunity to reach out and to find new paths and to try and overcome this which is of course a very serious crisis, but we will also take forward a very serious and ambitious strategy to try and overcome this. It is not the first time in our long and proud history that we face challenges of this nature, but it is in financial terms the most serious financial crisis ever in the history of this agency”.
16. Close up, hands typing
17. Med hot, journalists
STORYLINE
The UN agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) has launched today (30 Jan) in Geneva an appeal for its emergency programmes of over USD 800 million to ensure their activities for Syria and the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) which consists of Gaza and the West Bank. The appeal covers also some 50,000 Palestine refugees from Syria who have fled to Lebanon and Jordan.

Speaking to journalists at the UN in the Swiss city, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said that “the emergency appeal that were presented this morning represents just over 400 million US Dollars for Syria, and just under 400 million Dollars for West Bank and Gaza”. Krähenbühl explained that “those are for emergency response, food, cash, additional emergency medical supplies, in particular also mental health support and gender-based violence related activities. So we have that range that we are of course, appealing to the international community for response to”.

The majority of Palestine refugees in the OPT and from Syria rely on UNRWA to provide aid.

However, the Agency’s critical financial crisis following the reduction in US funds threatens, according to Krähenbühl, UNRWA’s ability to deliver these vital services.

He said “evidently, that is a very severe and dramatic change in the parameters of funding from the United States who has been an absolute stable, predictable and most generous contributor to UNRWA over decades”.

Krähenbühl added that the United States “has been the single largest donor to the agency for very very many years, and where consensus existed, bi-partisan consensus, that whatever the disagreements and opinions there were in the bi-lateral level between the US and the Palestinian authority or Palestinian leaderships, there would also be support to the refugee community. This element of course, is now at risk and represents for UNRWA a very significant additional shortfall which puts at risk and what is at stake is the access, as I said of 500,000 boys and girls to education at a very time when everybody is concerned about further risks of radicalisation in the Middle East”.

Inside Syria, UNRWA is reaching over 400,000 Palestine refugees with cash assistance, one of the largest such programmes in an active conflict setting anywhere in the world. UNRWA is providing education to over 47,000 Palestine refugees, supplementing regular classes with psycho-social support and safety-awareness training. UNRWA has also developed distance-learning materials for those unable to attend classrooms.

Krähenbühl added “when you think of the accumulative impact in psycho-social terms of three wars in the recent decade, if you think of all of the constraints in the sense of deprivation that faces the community, you have what our colleagues in the health sector in the Gaza strip call an ‘epidemic deterioration of psycho-social conditions’ and this is certainly I cannot see in the interest of anybody at regional level to allow this to continue”.

Last week, UNRWA has launched a global campaign called ‘Dignity is priceless’ with the objective of appealing to people of good will around the planet, but also institutions, foundations, the Palestinian diaspora and others to help us overcome this particular critical phase in the history of the funding to the agency.

Krähenbühl noted that UNRWA provides essential services to some 5,3 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants across, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip, including running 700 schools for 425, 000 Palestinian boys and girls and 140 health clinics.

Due to the decade-old blockade, Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rate worldwide, almost one million Palestinian refugees are dependent on UNRWA for emergency food assistance, a tenfold on the 100,000 that required such support in 2000. Three and a half years on from the 2014 hostilities, which caused unprecedented destruction and loss of life, thousands of Palestine refugee families remain displaced and over 50,000 homes have yet to be completely repaired.

Krähenbühl said “it is not the first time in our long and proud history that we face challenges of this nature, but it is in financial terms the most serious financial crisis ever in the history of this agency.”

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly as a relief and human development agency to support more than 700,000 refugees and displaced persons who had been forced to flee their homes in Palestine. Today there are more than 5 million registered Palestinians refugees and their descendants living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
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