UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon used the 65th anniversary of the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees to appeal Tuesday for an immediate resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations and an end to unilateral actions “that erode trust.”
Ban told a UN conference marking the anniversary of the UN Relief and World Agency that UNRWA was never meant to exist for 65 years, but “it exists because of political failure.”
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said there are over 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the region today, which “equates to the population of Norway or Singapore.”
He said they “face an existential crisis on many fronts,” blockaded in Gaza by Israel, living under fear of detention by the Israeli army in the West Bank, and trapped by “a merciless siege and violence” in the Yarmouk refugee camp outside the Syrian capital Damascus.
“Their isolation, exclusion and dispossession represent a time bomb for the region, a denial of dignity and rights that must be addressed,” Krahenbuhl said.
He said 65 percent of registered Palestinian refugees are under the age of 25, educated but unemployed, “determined to engage but with few prospects and limited freedom of movement to do so.” He warned that this “will lead many to despair or increasing numbers to choose dangerous routes across the Mediterranean or beyond.”
Read more at Times of Israel.