H.E. Dr. R.M. Marty M. Natalegawa
Permanent Representative of
the Republic of Indonesia
to the United Nations
To introduce Draft Resolutions on:
Assistance to Palestine refugees
Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities
Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues
Agenda item 29:
United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
New York, 6 November 2008
It is my honor, on behalf of the cosponsors, to introduce the four draft resolutions being submitted under agenda item 29, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
As the international community reflects this year on the passage of over six decades since the creation of the Palestine refugee problem, it is more important than ever that we reaffirm our commitment to the principles and provisions contained within these resolutions aimed at alleviating the plight of the Palestine refugees in the context of a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the question of Palestine as a whole.
The four draft resolutions before us address the core issues regarding the Palestinian refugees and the work of UNRWA in providing essential services and assistance to them. Under this item, the General Assembly annually reaffirms the rights of the Palestine refugees, as well as of Palestinians displaced in the 1967 hostilities, and addresses in detail the work and operations of UNRWA. For nearly 60 years, this Agency has provided vital education, health, social, relief and emergency services, even under constant financial constraints and harsh circumstances, especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, that have not only detrimentally affected the socio-economic conditions, safety and welfare of the Palestine refugees but have also affected the work of the Agency and the safety of its staff.
In light of the fact that the situation of the Palestine refugees has regrettably not changed, and in some cases even worsened, these draft resolutions largely reflect the same texts as those adopted under this item by the Assembly in its 62nd session, with the exception of certain amendments to reflect recent developments and some technical modifications.
The first draft resolution is entitled, “Assistance to Palestine refugees”, contained in document A/C.4/63/L. This draft reaffirms fundamental principles regarding the Palestine refugees and the UNRWA. The preamble recalls resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948 and all subsequent resolutions on the question and also recalls resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949, by which the Assembly established the UNRWA. It also takes note of the recent report of the Commissioner-General of the UNRWA and expresses the Assembly’s awareness of the continuing needs of the Palestine refugees throughout all fields of operation, namely Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The draft resolution affirms the imperative of resolving the Palestine refugee problem for the achievement of justice and lasting peace in the region and acknowledges the essential role played by UNRWA in ameliorating their plight.
The operative paragraphs, inter alia, affirm the necessity for continuation of UNRWA’s work for the well-being of the refugees and stability of the region, pending the resolution of the question of the Palestine refugees, and call upon all donors to make the most generous efforts possible to meet the needs of the Agency, including its emergency appeals and in regard to the rise in expenditure due to the deteriorating socio-economic and humanitarian situation in the region, particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The new additions to this draft resolution are the decision to commemorate the work of UNRWA on the occasion of its 60th anniversary at a high-level meeting of the General Assembly next year and decision to admit Ireland and Finland to the Advisory Commission of UNRWA in accordance with the criteria set by the Assembly in this regard.
The second draft resolution is entitled “Persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities”, contained in document A/C.4/62/L. In the operative, the Assembly reaffirms the right of persons displaced as a result of the June 1967 and subsequent hostilities to return to their homes or former places of residence in the territories occupied by Israel since 1967. It also expresses deep concern that the mechanism agreed upon by the parties in the Declaration of Principles on the return of displaced persons has not been complied with and stresses the necessity for an accelerated return of the displaced. It also calls for the provision of humanitarian assistance to displaced needy Palestinians.
The next draft resolution, is entitled “Operations of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East”, contained in document A/C.4/62/L. This draft addresses the main aspects of the daily operations of UNRWA and the challenges faced in fulfilling its mandate, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In the preamble, the draft refers to the continuing needs of the Palestine refugees in all fields of operation and conveys grave concern about the increased suffering of the Palestine refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifying the severe situation in Gaza Strip, including the extensive destruction caused to refugee shelters and properties, the displacement of refugees and the decline of their socio-economic conditions. The Assembly acknowledges in this regard the extraordinary efforts being undertaken by the Agency for the repair or rebuilding of thousands of damaged or destroyed refugee shelters and for the provision of shelter and emergency aid for those refugee families internally displaced as a result of Israeli occupying forces military actions and also of the efforts being undertaken by the Agency to assistance the thousands of refugees affected and displaced by the crisis in the Nahr el-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon.
The draft also expresses the Assembly’s grave concern about the safety of the staff and damage to the facilities of UNRWA, deploring in this regard the killing of 19 Agency staff members by the Israeli occupying forces since September 2000, and once again expresses deep concern about the policies of closure and severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods, including curfews, and the grave impact on the socioeconomic situation of the Palestine refugees as well as on the access and operations of the Agency.
In the operative, the Assembly, inter alia, reaffirms that the functioning of the Agency remains essential in all fields of operation and expresses appreciation to the Commissioner-General and staff of the Agency for their tireless efforts, particularly in light of the difficult conditions throughout the past year. The draft also acknowledges the support of the host governments for UNRWA and expresses appreciation for the roles of the Advisory Commission and the Working Group on the Financing of UNRWA. The Assembly further encourages the Agency, in close cooperation with other relevant U.N. agencies, to continue making progress in addressing the needs and rights of children and women in its operations in accordance with the relevant human rights covenants.
This draft resolution calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to comply fully with the provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention and to abide by the Charter and the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the U.N. It also urges Israel to compensate the Agency for damage to its facilities and to reimburse the Agency for financial losses sustained as a result of delays and movement restrictions imposed by Israel. Finally, the Assembly reiterates its appeals to all States, specialized agencies and NGOs to continue and increase their contributions to UNRWA in support of the Agency’s valuable work in assisting the Palestine refugees.
The fourth draft resolution under this item is entitled “Palestine refugees' properties and their revenues”, which is contained in document A/C.4/62/L. The draft recalls resolution 194 (III) and all subsequent resolutions on the question and recalls also the principle that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his or her property. Moreover, it reaffirms that the Palestine Arab refugees are entitled to their property and to the income derived there from, in conformity with the principles of justice and equity. The Assembly also requests the Secretary-General to take all appropriate steps for the protection of Arab property, assets and property rights in Israel. And, finally, it urges the two sides to deal with the important issue of Palestine refugees’ properties and their revenues in the framework of the final status negotiations of the Middle East peace process.
It is our strong hope that, if consensus is not possible, the members of this Committee will adopt these draft resolutions on UNRWA with the largest possible support, reflecting the international community’s firm and continuing support for the important humanitarian work of UNRWA and for the Palestine refugees until the achievement of a just and lasting solution.
Thank you. Mr. Chairman.
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