Issued by the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council: Position Paper on the Current Funding Crisis of UNRWA, International Responsibility and a Framework of Short and Long-term International Interventions Necessary for Maintaining the Functioning


We, the undersigned members of the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC), prompted by the current funding crisis faced by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), take this opportunity to state our grave, collective concern at these deeply troubling developments, and to call for both the immediate introduction of fair and effective remedial measures, and an urgent rethink in the approach employed by the United Nations and the international community towards the protection of Palestinian refugees; a community now numbering in excess of 7 million people.

This chronic funding shortfall in UNRWA’s core budget, necessary for running its essential programs, currently stands at US $101 million (this amount does not include the budget required for supplementary programs and projects of UNRWA). This has resulted, inter alia, in the suggested postponement of the academic year for half a million Palestinian students across the Middle East – among them, 320,00 students in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) – and a possible implementation of mandatory unpaid vacation for roughly 23,000 employees (60% of whom are in the oPt) . Without prejudice to UNRWA’s employees’ rights and demands, it is wholly unjust for refugees to bear the consequences of UNRWA’s budget crisis, and access to education is not just a basic human right, but a crucial building block of a healthy, stable and functioning society. Delivery of education, therefore, is of no less importance than that of other essential humanitarian services, with the postponement of the academic year representing an individual tragedy for students, but also an indirect form of punishment for the Palestinian people. As such, the implementation of such emergency administrative measures by UNRWA represents an infringement of the human rights of refugees, as well a clear deviation from UNRWA’s mandate…