UNRWA Commissioner-General calls for support for Palestine refugees in presence of Pope Francis

Today, His Holiness Pope Francis accepts the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini.

The Commissioner-General described the unprecedented challenges facing Palestine refugees, especially in light of the lack of prospects for a solution to their plight. He also provided His Holiness the Pope with an overview of the urgent needs of Palestine refugees in the various areas of UNRWA operations, in addition to direct testimonies following his recent visits to Syria and Lebanon in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

Commissioner-General Lazzarini highlighted the critical work UNRWA does in supporting the human development of Palestine refugees, including in education through more than 700 schools serving more than half a million Palestine refugee girls and boys. The Education Program – the largest program run by the Agency – is shaped by the principles of peace and tolerance. The Commissioner-General asked His Holiness the Pope to help ensure that the plight of the 5.9 million Palestine refugees is not forgotten and that their right to live in peace and dignity is respected.

“I have been incredibly honored to convey to His Holiness Pope Francis the story of Palestine refugees, the critical work and the impact of UNRWA services on their daily lives,” said the Commissioner-General, adding, “As we approach the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of UNRWA, support for human rights “For Palestine refugees, UNRWA’s work is more vital than ever to help them achieve a life of dignity. The serious financial crisis that the Agency continues to face threatens to undermine the human development gains of Palestine refugees.”

During the meeting, Lazzarini handed the Pope a message from Lynn, a 15-year-old girl and member of the UNRWA Student Parliament. Lynn lives in the Dheisheh refugee camp, near the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. In her message, Lynn said, “Like other children in the camp, I want to complete my education, so that I can build a good future for myself and help my family and people in the camp improve their lives. As a Palestine refugee, I want to live in peace like the rest of the world’s children. We want our rights, we want To live in freedom, peace and security, and we want to go to school in peace and without fear.”

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