Interventions: Statements of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations
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Statement of the Holy See

Before the Special Political and Decolonization Committee
 (Fourth Committee)
of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly

on item 52:

United Nations Relief and Works Agency
for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

New York, 6 November 2012


Mr. Chairman,

My delegation having carefully reviewed the Report of Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees on the Near East (UNRWA) as well as the speech of the Commissioner-General Filippo Grandi delivered to the UNRWA Advisory Commission 18 June 2012 (Dead Sea, Jordan), commends the transparency of the reporting and the implementation of critical financial reforms needed to meet the changing realities in the region.

The Commissioner-General has clearly identified that recurrent conflicts in the Near East have added new problems to the already difficult task of serving Palestine refugees in the Near East. As resources from the international community become more limited, as the difficult international economic situation waxes and wanes daily, the refugee population continues to grow through natural demographics and the influx of refugees due to the recurrent conflict of the region.

The Holy See, also present with UNRWA in the region, must confront these same realities through its charitable organizations, which must educate the youth, provide medical care within numerous hospitals, clinics and rehabilitation facilities for the injured. Care must be given to the homeless whose homes have been destroyed, families provided for when wage earners are either killed, imprisoned, or become unemployed. Facilities for those traumatized by incessant war and political upheavals must also be provided. Generous Catholic Donor agencies from the United States, Germany, Japan, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom and many other countries are providing funds for their humanitarian services.

Transnational agencies under the auspices of the Holy See, such as the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the Knights and Dames of Malta, just to name a few, work alongside UNRWA in the host countries for the welfare of Palestine refugees.

Mr. Chairman,

The concerns of the Commissioner-General Grandi, as reflected in his reports, are our concerns as well. The needs of the refugees grow as resources become more limited as the international financial crisis continues to play out. My delegation shares the premise advanced by the Commissioner-General that the uncertainty of the future for the refugees at this time sows seeds of the possible radicalization of the young. For education to promote hope for the future, peace must return to the region. The Peace Process has stagnated badly and the international community needs to renew its firm commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestine issue  now sixty-four years old.

During his recent visit to one of the UNRWA’s host countries, Lebanon, 15-17 September 2012, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, spoke very clearly of the need for peace in the region. He stated:

 “[T]he first priority is to do all we can to halt the violence and to open up   a real possibility of staying together for the future. What can we do against war?  Of course, we can always spread the message of peace so we can make it clear that violence never solves problems and we can build up the forces of peace... I also believe that there must be an end to the importation of arms: without which, war would not continue. Instead of importing weapons, which is a grave sin, we should import ideas of peace and creativity.”

 The Quartet must renew its efforts to restore peace to the region so that the works of UNRWA could cease and that the humanitarian works of the Holy See would not be for refugees, but for citizens of a viable and stable polity of peoples.

In the hope that the problems caused by the many conflicts of the region will finally be resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my delegation further underlines that a lasting solution must include the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem. The Holy See renews its support for “internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities” (A/RES/ES-10/12).

Finally, we renew our call to the international community to facilitate significant negotiation between the conflicting parties. Only with a just and lasting peace - not imposed, but secured through negotiation and reasonable compromise - will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman


Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

25 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016-0903
Tel: (212) 370-7885 - Fax: (212) 370-9622