73 UNGA: Statement by the Cuban Delegation at the General Debate of the Special Political and Decolonization Committee, On Item 54 "United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East". New York, November 9, 2018.

Mr. Chairman,       

Cuba associates itself with the statement by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement.

We pay tribute to the staff of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and in particular to Mr. Pierre Krahenbuhl, the Agency's Commissioner-General, for his tireless efforts, his courage and dedication to the service of Palestine refugees, in extremely difficult conditions.

Mr. Chairman,

The Report of the Commissioner-General, contained in document A/ 73/13, describes the situation of Palestine refugees and highlights the important work of the Agency, despite its precarious financial situation.

It is really surprising to see how despite the operational deficit facing UNRWA, together with the intentional cut and later the cessation of contributions from its largest donor, and even the suspension of financing for some hospitals in the area of operations of the Agency, it did not succumb and was able to fulfill its mandate.

In this context, we must recognize the commendable work performed by UNRWA and its staff in extreme conditions, a task that have been carried out in a very hostile environment, in the midst of shootings with real bullets, bombings, destruction and abuses of the population by the Israeli occupation force.

We would also like to recognize the governments of host countries and donors, including the associated Arab States of the Gulf, who promised, in an unprecedented breakthrough, 150 million dollars. We commend the work carried out by the Secretary-General of the UN in order to mobilize a rapid global response to address the critical situation of UNRWA, which would allow operations to be maintained after mid-2018.

Mr. Chairman,

It is regrettable that the largest donor to UNRWA is trying to stifle its humanitarian work, using ridiculous reasons, unsustainable legal arguments and considerations that have no basis in the history and development of the Agency.

There is an attempt to carry out a campaign of misrepresentations about the way in which Palestinian refugees should be redefined, registered and counted. An attempt is made, under pressure and financial blackmail; to break the will of the Palestinian people, who have demonstrated throughout more than 50 years of Israeli occupation their courage, deep patriotism and conviction in the justness of their cause.

In this context, we call on the UN member States to show political will in order to guarantee more adequate, predictable and sustained funding for UNRWA for the duration of its mandate.

Mr. Chairman,

In the current situation, where conflicts in the Middle East region are worsening, the situation created will only complicate the already volatile scenario in the region, where there has been an increase in violence, marginalization, displacement and poverty affecting millions of civilians and, in particular, Palestinian refugees in the fields of operation of UNRWA.                                                     

Cuba will continue to support a comprehensive, just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, based on a two-State solution, which allows the Palestinians the right to self-determination, to have a free, independent and sovereign State, with its capital in East Jerusalem and with the pre-1967 borders; as well as the right of refugees to return.

We reiterate our strong support and solidarity for the just cause of the Palestinian people, as well as the need to redouble efforts to resolve the difficult situation of the refugees, in accordance with the rules and principles of International Law and with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations. 

Thank you very much.