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70 years of UNRWA in a Middle East in turmoil: hopes and challenges for Palestine refugees

02/04/2019, Rome, Istituto Affari Internazionali

Meeting with the participation of
Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)

Opening remarks
Luca Gori, Plenipotentiary Minister, Director of the Mediterranean and the Middle East Department, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
Cristina Natoli, Head of the Jerusalem Office, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS)

Welcome and chair
Daniela Huber, Senior fellow in the Mediterranean and Middle East programme,Istituto Affari Internazionali

70 years ago, UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly as a humanitarian agency to support more than 700,000 Palestine refugees displaced in 1948, a few months after the UN partition plan of Palestine in November 1947. Still today, UNRWA mirrors the international community's obligation to provide a just and durable solution for Palestine refugees, which remain one of the largest refugee population of our times. Palestine refugees living in conflict situations such as in Syria or Gaza have been particularly exposed to further harm. Beyond all this, UNRWA has also recently been targeted by the policy of the current US Administration which has stopped funding this Agency. This move was perceived as a denial of the responsibility of the international community for the Palestine refugees, as well as an attack on their rights anchored in UN resolutions.