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Statement by H.E. Ambassador Hoang Chi Trung on Agenda Item 29: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East
10-29-2008, 03:22 pm


by H.E. Ambassador Hoang Chi Trung

Deputy Permanent Representative

At the Fourth Committee of the 63rd Session

Of the General Assembly of the United Nations

on Agenda Item 29: United Nations Relief and Works Agency

for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East

New York, Wednesday, 29th October, 2008

Mr. Chairman,

At the outset, my delegation wishes to thank Mrs. Karen Koning AbuZayd, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, for the annual comprehensive report on the work of the agency over the past year in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza. We are also grateful for the efforts of the Advisory Committee in supporting UNRWA’s operations.

Mr. Chairman,

2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and the genesis of the Palestinian refugee problem which called for the establishment of UNRWA. For the last six decades, the Agency has undergone great challenges to bring its service to the millions of Palestinian refugees. UNRWA has made tremendous efforts in discharging its important mandate under the dire conditions. Obviously, UNRWA’s personnel has tried their utmost to overcome the numerous obstacles to deliver its laudable humanitarian service to the Palestinian refugees. We wish to express our admiration and profound gratitude for the dedication, commitment and constant engagement demonstrated by UNRWA’s staff-members over the last six decades, often in life-threathening circumstances, as well as for their remarkable contributions to the relief of grave humanitarian needs and the maintenance of the regular operations of the Agency.

We commend the agency for its tireless efforts to provide education, health and social services to the Palestinian people. Most noteworthy of all is the fact that thanks to UNRWA’s operations, hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children have had the opportunity to go to schools and many more have had the opportunity to enjoy better conditions to improve their lives. These activities have surely helped to lessen the hardships and sufferings of the Palestinian refugees, the refugee children in particular. We commend the efforts made by the Agency and its personnel in responding to the worsening situation in Gaza, in particular, by increasing the Agency’s emergency humanitarian assistance in such difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Vietnam supports the efforts to ensure the continuous reform of UNRWA to improve further the effectiveness and impact of its various activities. My country warmly welcomes the Agency’s decision to formulate a medium-term strategy for the period from 2010 to 2015 and to ensure that its future objectives will be based on concrete needs assessments, enabling UNRWA to help the Palestinian refugees achieve their full potential in human development terms.

Mr. Chairman,

The greatest challenge for the work of UNRWA is its uncertain financial situation. The Agency is working under a big financial deficit at a time when demands for rendering support and assistance to the Palestinian refugees have sharply increased. In this connection, we urge the United Nations and the member states to give stronger support to the work of the agency and hope that the agency will continue to enjoy close cooperation and coordination with the other organizations and agencies in the United Nations family.

Another major obstacle hindering the work of the Agency is the absence of cooperation from the Israeli government, especially, its policies of imposing the separation barriers, closures, curfews as well as other restrictions on movement of people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. These measures have brought about a serious negative impact on the ability of the Agency to carry out its mandated tasks. The restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities on the freedom and movement of the agency’s personnel, vehicles and goods are a matter of grave concerns to the international community. In this connection, our delegation wishes to underline that the privileges and immunities of UNRWA as an organ of the United Nations must be fully respected and actions that impede the activities of the agency must be eliminated. We call upon the Israeli authorities to take urgent steps to abolish these restrictive policies.

Mr. Chairman,

In concluding, my delegation wishes to reiterate its consistent and strong support for the work of UNRWA in discharging its noble responsibilities. After sixty years of tremendous hardships and sufferings endured by the Palestinian people, the Palestinian refugees in particular, it is our conviction that greater and more serious efforts should be made so that the conflicts in the Middle East, including the Palestinian problem, would soon arrive at a just and lasting solution, and thus bringing the Palestinian refugee problem to a final settlement.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman./.

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