Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holland to reconsider UNRWA funding

Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal.
THE HAGUE (EJP)---Holland will "thoroughly review" its policy on the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA), Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal told the parliament in The Hague.
The Dutch ruling party called UNRWA’s definitions "worrisome." Holland is UNRWA’s 6th largest donor, with an annual contribution of roughly 30 million dollars.
Rosenthal announced the review in reply to a question by the speaker of his own faction, the Liberal VVD.
"UNRWA uses its own unique definition of refugees, different to the UN’s. The refugee issue is a big obstacle for peace. We therefore ask the government acknowledge this discrepancy, which leads to the third-generation Palestinian refugees," VVD speaker Hans Ten Broeke said.
Minister Uri Rosenthal promised to "thoroughly review the subject and adopt a balanced resolution on it." He added: "I understand many involved parties regard UNRWA’s approach as highly important as it helps clarify matters and bring them into focus."
The minister’s position is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks in a letter to parliament.
UNRWA was set up in 1949 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as an independent body entrusted with caring for Palestinian refugees who fled their homes in the years 1946-1949. Unlike UNHCR, UNRWA extends the definition of refugee also to descendants.
Additionally, UNRWA refugees keep their status after gaining citizenship. UNHCR is responsible for all refugees except Palestinians.
According to UNRWA, there are approximately five million Palestinian refugees worldwide.
 Last year Canada stopped its core funding of roughly 10 million dollars annually for UNRWA. In 2011 UNRWA enjoyed a budget of 1.23 billion dollars, roughly half of it provided by the U.S and the European Commission – its two largest donors, followed by Sweden, Britain and Norway.
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