Statement at extraordinary  ministerial conference in support of UNRWA

State Secretary Audun Halvorsen gave this statement at the extraordinary ministerial conference in support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Rome.

Thank you for convening this important meeting.

The unprecedented financial crisis that UNRWA isfacing urgently needs to be resolved. The international community has a collective responsibility in finding solutions that will lead to a more sustainable funding for the agency. It is also our shared responsibility to ensure that UNRWA receives the resources it needs to continue to deliver on its mandate, pending a just and agreed political solution for Palestine refugees.

I would like to commend UNRWA for its strategic efforts to address the acute financial crisis, and I hope they will lead to results.

Much is at stake. Not only the agency's crucial delivery of services: schooling for more than 500.000children, health services for 3.5 million people, cash assistance to 1.7 million people, and dignity and security for 5.3 million people; UNRWA is also a stabilising factor in the region. We are deeply concerned about the possible consequences on the ground if UNRWA becomes unable to deliver on its mandate.

In January, Norway made an early transfer of our total funding for UNRWA's core budget for 2018 – amounting to approximately 16 million USD. I am pleased to announce that Norway has also allocated approximately USD 13.5 million to the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal. This will be transferred to UNRWA within a week.

I encourage other countries to increase their support to UNRWA, in addition to honouring thecommitments they have already made.

Norway commends UNRWA for its reform efforts over the last three years. Substantial savings have already been made, including increases in efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of the Medium Term Strategy for 2016-2021. However, further reforms are needed within the existingmandate. Norway would like to cooperate with UNRWA and other interested parties on these efforts.