Statement delivered by Ambassador Stefano Stefanile, Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations, at the Meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) —
Thank you, Madame President,
allow me to align myself with the statement made earlier by the European Union and to add a few considerations on our side.
The first range of comments has to do with the recognition of the role played by UNRWA.
Italy strongly appreciates and supports the crucial work that the Agency under the leadership of Commissioner General continues to carry out in order to provide essential services to Palestinian refugees, especially women and children as underlined by other speakers before me.
The Agency plays a key role not only because it provides shelter, food and healthcare, which is essential per se, but also because it contributes to the broader stabilization of the region, by addressing long-term fundamental needs, first of all education for young people and we heard this morning important testimonies in that respect.
UNRWA’s role is all the more crucial in the Gaza Strip, where the urgency of addressing the humanitarian situation and providing a horizon for social and economic development remains.
Coming to the budget situation, we welcome UNRWA’s effort to ensure the sustainability of its operations in what continues to be a particularly challenging period. We appreciate the introduction of difficult but necessary cost-cutting and efficiency measures, in the framework of a more focused use of UNRWA financial resources. We encourage the Agency to persevere in these efforts and to increase its activities towards broadening and diversifying UNRWA’s donor base.
In terms of financial contributions, Italy has traditionally been among the most significant supporters of UNRWA, both nationally and through the contribution of the European Union and this is also reflected in the chart distributed by UNRWA related to 2018. As regards to our overall national contribution for 2018 we are not yet in a position to indicate definitive figures.
We would like to take this opportunity, however, to reiterate our general support to the Agency and we look forward to announce our financial pledge in the shortest possible time.
Finally, let me say Madame President, Italy looks forward to engaging proactively and constructively in the discussions related to the renewal of UNRWA’s mandate, which will take place during the next session of the General Assembly.