Jordan, Sweden host pledging conference in support of UNRWA

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On Tuesday, the governments of Jordan and Sweden hosted an extraordinary pledging conference for all UN member states in support of UNRWA, securing around $130 million in financial commitments.

The hosts gathered UN member states to commit to a multiyear financing, expand the donor base and develop innovative financial mechanisms to help ensure that the refugee agency can continue to play its “essential role” in the development, stability and peace of the region, according to a pre-conference statement.

The pledging conference came just days after the international community marked World Refugee Day on June 20.

Secretary General of the UN António Guterres said in an online press conference, attended by The Jordan Times, that it is his “duty to convey a message of support to the vital work of UNRWA, which is the lifeline for millions of Palestinian refugees”.

He added: “Today demonstrates a strong message of solidarity from the international community with Palestinian refugees, but I am afraid much more is needed.”

UNRWA has been facing a financial crisis since the United States, formally UNRWA’s largest single donor, suspended its 70-year partnership with the agency.

Commissioner General of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini noted that the core funding gap for 2020 stands at $400 million, adding that the countries that the agency operates in — Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza —are all facing problems of their own.

Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation Peter Eriksson said that the international community “has come together to support more than five million Palestinian refugees for whom the UNRWA’s services are crucial”.

He noted the pledging conference signals “strong political support for the Palestinian cause”.