India assured full support to Palestinian refugees and expressed hope that other nations, including the traditional donors, will assist to support the UN agency for Palestinian refugees who are facing serious resource shortage after the US decided to cease funding.
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The Trump administration last month announced that after carefully evaluating the issue, it has decided not to make additional contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
“India has supported UNRWA’s work since its establishment. UNRWA has been carrying out commendable work for Palestine refugees,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said at the Ministerial Committee of the NAM on Palestine on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.
Swaraj said from this year, India has increased its contribution to UNRWA from USD 1.25 million to USD 5 million annually, the country’s highest annual voluntary contribution to any of the UN’s funds and programmes.
“We hope other member states, including the traditional donors, will also step in to support UNRWA at a time when it is faced with a serious resource crunch,” Swaraj said.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert had announced that the US was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs.
“When we made a US contribution of USD 60 million in January, we made it clear that Washington was no longer willing to bourne the asymmetrical share of the burden of UNRWA’s costs that we had assumed for many years,” Nauert had said in a statement.
Swaraj also voiced concern over the deterioration in the security situation in the region, reiterating that a negotiated two-State solution remains the only viable solution to the issue to bring sustainable peace and lasting security. Swaraj stated that India’s continued commitment to the Palestinian cause and earnestness to develop stronger bilateral relations is demonstrated in the successive high-level visit in the recent past.
India-Palestine Joint Initiative
Development partnership projects worth around USD 70 million are under implementation during the last five years, including flagship projects like the super-speciality hospital in Beit Sahour and the India-Palestine Technology Park, which was inaugurated last year in Ramallah, she added.
Skills and capacity development for the youth and their enhanced engagement, as an investment in a better future, is also one of the focus of India-Palestine partnership, she said.
While the number of youth delegates to participate in the youth exchange programme has been doubled this year, India has also considerably magnified the scholarships made available for Palestinian professionals and students for technical training and higher education from this year, Swaraj said.