The statement was held on November 2nd in the 4th Committe, and went as follows:
As we meet, the second intifada in the occupied territories is entering its fifth year. The human cost to the Palestinian population has been rising steadily, reaching a peak during the recent Israeli operation "Days of Penitence" in Jabalya refugee camp. UN organisations and the International Red Cross Committee have warned us that violence, humiliation and poverty is pushing the Palestinian population into a deep crisis. Norway is deeply concerned about this development.
The services and emergency aid provided by UNRWA play an indispensable role at such times. It is however necessary to provide the agency with the capacity and resources it needs to carry out the tasks assigned to it by the General Assembly. So far, UNRWA has received a mere 45 percent of the requested funding for the emergency appeal for 2004. The international community must honour its commitments to the agency. Norway has made additional contributions to the agency and urges fellow donors to follow suit.
The report of the Working Group states that funding shortfalls have affected the Agency’s ability to maintain the level and quality of the services it provides to more than four million refugees. As donors we are concerned that the cost of providing basic services in the occupied territories is rising sharply as a result of IDF incursions, the closures regime and – increasingly – the continued construction of the barrier.
No conflict is above international humanitarian law and international human rights instruments. The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice was a timely reminder of this.
UNRWA and other humanitarian relief agencies must be guaranteed full access to Gaza and other parts of the occupied territories. Regrettably UNRWA has been targeted with unfounded allegations of misconduct. We commend the Agency and its staff for their untiring efforts to assist Palestinian refugees under difficult and often dangerous circumstances.
For more than 50 years UNRWA has been providing a growing refugee population with relief and hope of a life in dignity. The Agency itself, the host countries and the many donor countries have a common interest in ensuring that the Agency maintains a high level of transparency and open channels of communication, and that it uses scarce resources as efficiently as possible. We support the efforts of the Working Group on Stakeholder Relations and look forward to the recommendations to be presented at the next informal meeting of UNRWA donors and host countries in May.