A+ A-

UN chief: Perspective of Mideast peace is "more far away than ever"

NEW YORK, June 23 (KUNA) -- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres regretted Thursday that the Palestinian question is losing its urgency status and taking a back seat at the international stage which is now preoccupied with the war in Ukraine and other events.
"With the war in Ukraine, with other important events in the world, the Palestinian question is far from the headlines of the international media, and far from the centre of political debates in international fora," the UN chief said in remarks to the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the announcement of voluntary contributions to the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).
He lamented that the perspective of a political solution for the Palestinian question is "more far away than ever." "There [is] no peace process taking place. The most relevant global actors, the Quartet, is not able to meet, not even able to meet at ministerial levels." Guterres went on to say that "we see settlements moving on, evictions taking place, and no hope for a political solution".
He warned that this situation risks causing frustration among Palestinians, thus making them easy prey for terrorist organizations in the region.
"Imagine yourselves in this situation, imagine what you would feel, and imagine what it would be for someone from ISIS to come to you and to say, 'what are you doing, persisting in having hope, why don't you just join us and try to do whatever', you know, the things that are more and more happening with terrorist organisations around the world," he cautioned.
He noted that in this vulnerable situation, the UNRWA is doing a great job in delivering some sort of justice to Palestinian refugees, thus saving them from frustration and extremism.
"So, it's really a matter of justice, it's really a matter of real needs of people in a very vulnerable and sometimes hopeless situation.
"But it is also a barrier to the progression of extremism, to the progression of terrorism, to the progression of all the threats that are now more and more growing in our world," he said.
The UN chief expressed appreciation to all countries and organizations that are taking part in this pledging conference for UNRWA and its essential work for Palestine refugees.
"Your support enables over half a million children to receive quality education in UNRWA schools. It allows 140 clinics to offer over 8 million medical consultations per year," he pointed out.
He clarified that UNRWA provides cash, food assistance and social services to millions of people in regions where poverty rates can exceed 80 percent.
But, he raised alarm that this vital UN agency suffers from chronic underfunding.
"In the last ten years, the needs of Palestine refugees have increased, while funds have stagnated.
"UNRWA has worked hard to absorb the annual funding shortage through programme efficiencies 'but that alone will never solve the problem," he admitted.
He appealed to donors to increase their contributions to UNRWA to get it out from its current financial crisis.
"And so, we are asking for your solidarity and your support. And the ask, specifically, is twofold." "Millions of Palestine refugees are counting on us to relieve their suffering and to help them build a better future. We cannot let them down," he concluded. (end) asf.ibi