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Statement by Minister-Counselor YAO Shaojun at the Fourth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Agenda Item "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East"

2018/11/12

Mr Chairman,

I would like to thank Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl for his comprehensive briefing on the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Over the last seven decades, UNRWA has been working hard under its humanitarian assistance mandate to provide health, education and other services to 5.4 million Palestinian refugees, upholding the rights and dignity of Palestine refugees and easing the pressures on the host countries. At the same time, UNRWA has also played an active role in promoting regional peace and stability and stemming the breeding of extremist ideology and terrorism.

In recent years, in the face of rising humanitarian demand, UNRWA has been working actively to overcome such difficulties as underfunding and movement restrictions. Its humanitarian work has been enhanced through efficiency-oriented reforms, to improve both funding and economisation, with positive outcomes. China commends these efforts.

At present, UNRWA is being challenged with enormous practical difficulties. It is incumbent upon the international community to continue increasing its political and financial support to UNRWA, including ensuring that the Agency receives more adequate, stable, predictable and sustainable funding. The two joint statements issued by the BRICS foreign ministers in June and September this year both expressed the BRICS countries’ appreciation of, and support for, the work of UNRWA. We applaud the increased contributions from various parties to UNRWA so far this year and call on all parties to continue intensifying their support for UNRWA.

China attaches great importance to assisting Palestinian refugees and firmly supports UNRWA’s important role in improving the humanitarian situation of Palestinian refugees. China has been contributing financially to UNRWA every year for more than 30 consecutive years and, additionally, has been providing assistance to Palestinian refugees through bilateral channels, including support for the relevant relief projects in their host countries. This year, given the urgent needs of UNRWA, China made a one-time additional donation of 2 million US dollars in addition to our annual contribution of $350,000. Going forward, China will, along with other parties, continue to support UNRWA’s functioning to the best of its ability.

Mr Chairman,

The current instability and volatility in the Middle East have exacerbated the security situation and humanitarian challenges facing Palestine. The humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is particularly acute. On the other hand, host countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, are under tremendous and mounting economic and social pressures. We call on all parties to increase support for UNRWA and the host countries to ease the pressures they face in the provision of relief, in the spirit of pulling together in troubled times. Israel should cooperate with international aid efforts by completely lifting the blockade and restrictions on the Gaza Strip. The continued advancement of internal reconciliation in Palestine will also help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mr Chairman,

Only when peace is achieved between Palestine and Israel can the Palestinian refugee problem be resolved once and for all. China firmly supports the two-State solution and is committed to promoting the Middle East Peace Process and supporting the just cause of the Palestinian people striving to exercise their inalienable legitimate rights. China will, along with all parties concerned, continue to help advance the process towards the peaceful settlement of the Palestinian issue.

Thank you, Mr Chairman.

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