UNGA 77 – Fourth Committee
Agenda item 46: United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
New York, 7 November 2022
The Holy See would like to reaffirm its support to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for providing Palestinian refugees with essential services, including economic assistance, social support, and health care.
Particularly important is the agency’s provision of education to refugee children. As Pope Francis noted in his message on this year’s World Day of Peace, education and training “are the primary means of promoting integral human development; they make individuals more free and responsible, and they are essential for the defence and promotion of peace. In a word, teaching and education are the foundations of a cohesive civil society capable of generating hope, prosperity, and progress.”
Given UNRWA’s significant role in protecting and upholding the human dignity and rights of Palestinian refugees, my delegation renews its concern regarding the agency’s large and growing deficit, threatening to cut aid to those caught in the most vulnerable situations at a time when needs are higher than ever. These funding problems risk increasing the prevalence of poverty among the Palestinian refugees, which may foster desperation and cause more to choose the path of violence.
As a sign of Pope Francis’s solidarity and closeness with the Palestinian people, the Holy See has renewed its annual pledge to UNRWA, to support the agency’s care of children, who face a conflict not of their own making. In recognition of the agency’s significant financial needs, the Holy See encourages all States to consider making their own contribution to UNRWA.
My delegation deeply regrets the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel and the accompanying tragic loss of life. In this regard, The Holy See renews its deepest sorrow at the Catholic journalist Ms. Shireen Abu Aqleh’s death and expresses the hope that in bringing the truth to light, her family members and those that relied on her reporting may receive some solace.
For any hope of a final peace settlement, violence must cease. In its place, government leaders must heed the plea for peace, “which expresses the pain and the horror of war, which is the mother of all poverty.” In doing so, Israeli and Palestinian leaders must take time and listen seriously and respectfully, and engage in dialogue and mutual understanding. It is only along the path of healing that the seeds of peace can be sown.
The complete and durable settlement to the Palestinian Question must include an equitable solution regarding the Holy City of Jerusalem, one that fully upholds the rights of all inhabitants and ensures that all believers, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, enjoy free access to their respective Holy Sites according to the long standing Status Quo. It is only in preserving such rights and freedoms that a lasting peace may be found. To that end, the Holy See reiterates its position in calling for a special status, internationally guaranteed, within which the various aspirations are composed in a harmonious and stable form and are adequately and effectively protected, so that no party can override the rights of the others.
In closing, and at a time when such a peace in the world continues to appear far off, allow me to return to the words of Pope Francis: “Let us never grow resigned to war; let us cultivate seeds of reconciliation.”
Thank you, Mr. Chair.