Palestine refugees ‘need our help now’, urges Guterres, requesting pledges to meet $120 million shortfall
The UN agency that supports around 5.4 million Palestine refugees in the near east, continues to play “an essential role” and any attempts to limit its mandate “would be disruptive and costly”, the UN chief warned on Thursday.
Speaking at a Ministerial Meeting in support of UNRWA, Secretary-General António Guterres said he had seen for himself many times, the “meaningful, positive difference” that the agency had made for decades “protecting and assisting millions of the most vulnerable”.
“And of course, UNRWA is a force for stability”, he reminded ministers. “I hesitate to imagine the enormous consequences if UNRWA was not able to operate – not only the profound humanitarian toll on people, but also the grave risks to peace and security in a volatile region.”
The withdrawal of more than $300 million by the US from its contribution towards UNRWA, provoked a funding crisis in August 2018, although many donors have upped their contributions to help bridge the gap.
“This year, many of you have already matched or exceeded your generous contributions of 2018”, said Mr. Guterres, but a $120 million shortfall remains, “and I strongly ask for your support to fill that gap.”
He said if the agency’s mandate was changed and limited when up for renewal in a few weeks’ time, it would be “host countries and the refugees themselves paying the highest price.”
‘Deep concern’ over rise of extremist violence in Burkina Faso
The members of the UN Peacebuilding Commission expressed “deep concern” on Thursday, over the deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso and condemned the numerous attacks by extremist groups targeting civilians, along with security and defense forces.
In a high level meeting attended by President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré, who also spoke, the Commission also heard there have been numerous recent security incidents involving armed groups and inter-communal clashes.
“These activities could pose a serious threat to the stability of Burkina Faso, as well as to other countries of the Sahel and to neighboring countries in the West Africa subregion”, members said, in a Press Statement issued after the meeting.
Members “reiterated their solidarity with the people and the Government of Burkina Faso and welcomed Government efforts to address the security situation and its humanitarian and socio-economic consequences,”.
They noted the pressure of rising security costs, and many members “welcomed efforts by communities that have developed peaceful mechanisms to address the causes and consequences of violence and recognized the central role women and youth play in contributing to social cohesion and community resilience.”
More details in the full note to correspondents, here.
Central African Republic peace process bearing fruit: UN chief
Speaking at the high-level meeting on the Central African Republic (CAR), Secretary-General António Guterres said that the peace process in the country is “bearing fruit”, describing the peace accord signed in February as “a historic path towards peace and security in the country”.
Since the signing of the deal, the number of human rights violations have dropped, he added, but in order to guarantee sustainable peace and security, much more needs to be done, such as the implementation of transitional security measures, as well as disarmament and the demobilization of armed groups.
The UN chief said he remains concerned by violations of the ceasefire, which undermine the public’s confidence in the peace deal. Mr. Guterres also emphasised the importance of accountability for violations, an urgent response to humanitarian needs, and the international community’s support in ensuring that elections scheduled for 2020/2021 are free and fair.
Praise for France’s Jacques Chirac as ‘a pioneer of the fight against climate change’
UN chief António Guterres expressed his “deep sadness” on Thursday at the death of long-time former French President, Jacques Chirac, who he said had served his country “with commitment and statesmanship”.
Extending his condolences to Mr. Chirac’s family and the Government and people of France, Mr. Guterres said in a statement, that the statesman had helped “set a course for the historic process of Europe’s political and economic integration”, in championing the European Union (EU).
Mr. Chirac, who was 86, occupied the Élysée Palace between 1995 and 2007, having also served twice as Prime Minister, and took his nation into the single European currency.
“On the world stage, he was a pioneer on the fight against climate change, a committed diplomat and a man of peace”, said the UN chief.