Statement by H.E. Mr. Ertuğrul Apakan at the Fourth Committee on UNRWA

Ertuğrul Apakan 01.11.2011

Thank you, Madam Chair,


Let me first, congratulate you on your assumption of the Chair of this Committee and your able guidance in ensuring smooth conduct of its  deliberations.  


Turkey welcomes the Annual Report of UNRWA to the General Assembly. We appreciate and support the efforts deployed by UNRWA’s  Commissioner-General, Mr. Filippo Grandi as well as the unyielding commitment of  Agency’s staff and management. They display an exemplary courage and perseverance often under difficult and risky conditions to provide assistance and essential services to Palestine refugees. The Agency’s vital role in preserving the stability and security of the region can in no way be denied. We are convinced that, the empowerment of UNRWA is to the benefit of all sides in the region.  


The Annual Report and the insightful briefing given by the Commissioner-General yesterday explain in detail both the challenges that UNRWA faces and the steps that need to be taken to address them. It became once more clear that the Agency faces serious funding challenges which turned into structural in nature. As the Chair of the Working Group on the financing of UNRWA, we are well aware of this problem.


Madam Chair,


I must underscore once again that, the Agency cannot and should not be left to carry the burden of an acute financial situation alone. This bleak outlook can only be reversed provided that a shared and coherent international responsibility is displayed. We should ensure the Agency’s capacity to  implement its mandate. More outreach will certainly be helpful. Full and continued support from the UN Budget and the international community is essential. We strongly urge all Member States to take into consideration the recommendations of the Working Group and call on the international community to significantly increase its voluntary assistance and contributions to UNRWA. For our part, we doubled our national contribution. Our bilateral assistance program and joint projects for Palestine will also continue.


On the other hand, all obstacles, direct and indirect, on the work of UNRWA must be lifted in the occupied territories and the Agency must be given full and unfettered access by the Israeli Government. In this context, the situation in Gaza continues to be an embarrassment for the international community. The inhumane and unlawful blockade, aimed at the collective punishment of a civilian population must end. Turkey once again calls for the immediate lifting of the blockade and the full implementation of UN Security Resolution 1860.


Madam Chair,


The tragedy of Palestine refugees has unfolded day by day, whether in the West Bank or Jordan, Lebanon or Syria, the Gaza Strip or elsewhere. While UNRWA performs admirably in providing the much needed services on the ground, without a just and viable resolution to the core issue of refugees in the context of a comprehensive peace agreement, the plight of millions of exiled Palestinians cannot effectively be redressed. Let me reiterate once more Turkey’s strong support for the realization of a just and lasting comprehensive peace in the region based on the two state solution; as well as our determination to assist Palestinians in attaining their long-delayed goal of a viable State of Palestine that is a full-fledged member of the UN. Turkey will continue to firmly support every effort to ease the predicament of Palestinian refugees and to bring just and lasting  peace to the Middle East.


I thank you Madam Chair.