Despite US opposition: UN extends UNRWA’s mission to support Palestinian refugees

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The United Nations General Assembly on Friday extended overwhelmingly the mandate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for another three years amid allegations of mismanagement and a lack of funding due to a US decision to cut its financial contributions.

The mandate of UNRWA has been extended until June 30, 2023 by 169 votes, nine abstentions, and opposition from the United States and Israel.

Founded in 1949, UNRWA provides education, health, and relief services as well as housing and microfinance assistance to more than five million refugees registered in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem, as well as Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

UNRWA has been struggling with its budget since last year when the United States, the largest donor, suspended aid totaling $ 360 million annually. The United States and Israel accuse the agency of mismanagement and incitement against Israel.

In a statement published by the Palestinian News Agency (WAFA), Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the decision of the General Assembly saying it is “a clear message by the international community that international legitimacy decisions are not compromising or blackmailing.”

Abbas said, “Getting the UN resolution overwhelming majority is evidence of the entire world standing with our people, its historical rights and its just cause, and represents a victory for international law and the rights of the Palestinian refugees until their issue is finally resolved in accordance with United Nations resolutions.”

The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which runs the Gaza Strip, also praised the vote and considered it a defeat for the United States and a failure for its attempts to pressure the UN member states against UNRWA.

The American mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the vote.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official of the Palestine Liberation Organization, welcomed the vote, saying that the responsibility to counter what she described as US and Israeli attacks on Palestinian refugees lies with the United Nations.

She said that all attempts to curtail UNRWA’s mandate or divest it of funds were unsuccessful and she hoped that the international community would continue its assistance.

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