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New Zealand supports the work of UNRWA

30 June 2004

New Zealand supports the work of UNRWA

New Zealand is contributing NZ$800,000 to help the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Aid Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

Marian Hobbs said the support is in response to the growing pressures on the agency to deliver humanitarian assistance to the 4.1 million Palestinian refugees living amidst the deteriorating political situation in the West Bank and Gaza.

"We have been shocked and appalled by the recent displacement of thousands of civilian refugees following the destruction of their homes in the past few months," Marian Hobbs added. "The increased reliance on UNRWA to provide emergency humanitarian aid in the current circumstances, places yet a further burden on the agency. This comes at a time when the agency itself continues to face chronic under-funding of its regular programme of work."

Phil Goff said that as a member of the international community New Zealand is committed to supporting peace, development and the protection and promotion of human rights of the Palestinian refugees.

"It is important that we do our share to support the increasingly difficult work of UNRWA, whose own staff are exposed to the continuing volatile and unstable security environment," Mr Goff said.

New Zealand contributes $300,000 annually to UNRWA. Earlier this month at the UNRWA High Level Conference held in Geneva, New Zealand pledged a supplementary $250,000 contribution to the agency. In consultation with New Zealand aid officials this week, this amount has been increased to $800,000. Of this $300,000 will be earmarked for the UNRWA 2004 Emergency Appeal and $500,000 will be provided to support the Rafah Special Crisis Appeal.

New Zealand is making this sizeable contribution to UNRWA in the strong belief that sustained international commitment is needed to effectively support UNRWA’s work and alleviate the human suffering of the Palestinian refugees.

Phil Goff also welcomed recent visits to the region by representatives from the Quartet (United Nations, European Union, Russia and the USA).

"We strongly support the Quartet's efforts to facilitate an end to this conflict through the Roadmap," he said. "New Zealand has the deepest sympathy for the Palestinians and Israelis who bear the brunt of the terrible violence that continues to destroy families on both sides. The international community must support the two parties to come together to stop this suffering. A sustainable peace can only be reached through a negotiated resolution."


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