Remarks at the United Nations UNRWA Pledging Conference

Nicholas Hill
Deputy U.S. Representative to ECOSOC
New York
June 23, 2022


The U.S. Government is committed to serving as a strong partner to UNRWA and is proud to be the Agency’s largest single donor. We contributed $338 million to UNRWA’s work in 2021 and have already announced $79 million for 2022. We intend to provide additional support to UNRWA this year. We echo the Commissioner-General’s statement that the UNRWA mandate cannot be implemented without commensurate funding.

The U.S. Government’s engagement with UNRWA is an important element of U.S. support to Palestinians done in coordination with regional and international partners. UNRWA plays an essential role in promoting stability in a turbulent region. We are committed to continue working with UNRWA, like we do with other UN agencies, for it to provide effective and efficient assistance with transparency and accountability in a manner consistent with the principles of neutrality, tolerance, respect for human rights, and non-discrimination.

Humanitarian need globally was already at an all-time high, stretching the global donor and humanitarian partner response capacity. Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine has only exacerbated needs that are now skyrocketing. UNRWA has reported rising food insecurity among the Palestinian refugee population due to fewer staple foods and the increasing cost of assistance. We are deeply concerned by the impact these changes will have on already vulnerable Palestinian households.

The United States is also concerned by UNRWA’s capacity to respond to growing food insecurity due to the financial crisis affecting the Agency. We urge UNRWA to continue its resource mobilization efforts, including engagement with non-traditional donors. We also look forward to learning more about how UNRWA could expand partnerships across the UN system to strengthen service delivery and in line with its mandate. This should aim to provide cost efficiencies and improved services for Palestinian refugees. We look forward to reviewing data on expected benefits from this proposal.

Commissioner-General Lazzarini has highlighted UNRWA’s efforts to support Palestinian refugees while also pursuing continued reforms to strengthen oversight, accountability, and transparency. The United States strongly supports these reforms and encourages further reforms in this spirit.

We acknowledge UNRWA’s to improve its internal oversight service, transparency in reporting, and commitment to humanitarian principles, including neutrality, and we encourage additional steps in this direction. There can be no tolerance for intolerance. We urge other donors to support further reform efforts politically and financially. An even more accountable and transparent UNRWA will provide better services to Palestinian refugees and yield cost efficiencies for years to come.

In closing, the United States reiterates our support to UNRWA and urges other donors to provide robust, reliable funding to help address the Agency’s long-term sustainability.

Thank you.