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Joint Nordic statement in the Fourth Committee's general debate on UNRWA

Joint Nordic Statement delivered by H.E. Christina Markus Lassen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN

Madam Chairperson,

I am taking the floor on behalf of the Nordic countries – Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Denmark.

The Nordic countries align with the statement delivered by the European Union, including its assessment of the political situation.

Events over the last month have sadly been yet another confirmation of why we need a strong and effective UNRWA. During the last month, UNRWA has been one of the only lifelines for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. UNRWA has been providing shelter to more than 690.000 displaced persons, while also providing vital basic services such as food, medicine and water despite the very difficult situation.

The Nordic countries wish to warmly commend the enormous and tireless efforts by UNRWA staff in Gaza and on the West Bank, who have worked day and night under extremely difficult and unsafe conditions. We wish to reaffirm our appreciation of the work of UNRWA during these challenging times. UNRWA’s work has come at a heavy cost, and we offer our sincere condolences for the more than 72 UNRWA staff who have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities on 7 October. Their deaths underline the urgent need for greater protection of humanitarian workers through strict adherence to humanitarian deconfliction.

We have heard Secretary-General Guterres as well as Commissioner-General Lazzarini make repeated calls for ensuring the protection of civilians in line with International Humanitarian Law, along with safe and unhindered humanitarian access.

We echo these calls.

Protection of civilians is not only vital, but one of the core obligations for all parties to a conflict under International Humanitarian Law. The Nordic countries call for rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need throughout Gaza – North and South - and through all necessary measures, including humanitarian corridors and pauses. In this regard, all diplomatic efforts are now of great value including by Secretary-General Guterres, the countries in the region, as well as the EU.

Madam Chairperson,

Beyond the current crisis, UNRWA has a unique mandate to protect and provide direct services to the millions of Palestine refugees living, not only in Gaza and the West Bank, but also in volatile contexts in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. UNRWA also plays a very important role in mitigating the risks of migration and radicalization, promoting regional stability, and ensuring that no one is left behind.

We acknowledge the difficult financial situation in which UNRWA finds itself, and call on the international community to ensure that the Agency receives adequate funding to fulfil its mandate. We welcome UNRWA’s efforts to diversify funding sources, including from the private sector and individual contributions. We also commend the important steps taken to modernize UNRWA systems to ensure a more efficient delivery of services. We underline the importance of broadening UNRWA’s donor base, and welcome increased support from other and new donors.

The Nordic countries have long been reliable partners to UNRWA. In 2022, the Nordic countries provided around 120 million US dollars in core contributions to UNRWA.

In addition, and in response to UNRWA’s flash appeal to address the current crisis, we have provided extraordinary humanitarian contributions totalling 11.2 million US dollars in order for UNRWA to respond to the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the West Bank.

Lastly, let me reiterate our continued appeal for a just, political two-state solution. This is the only way to ensure human development, sustainable peace and stability in the region, and a better future for the Palestine refugee population. Until a just, fair and durable solution is found, UNRWA’s invaluable work will remain crucial for stability in the region.

Thank you


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