Mar 19,2018 – JORDAN TIMES EDITORIAL
It must have taken some countries with surprise, notably the US, when Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Angelino Alfano pledged on behalf of his government to double his country’s contribution to UNRWA, given the fact that US President Donald Trump has reduced his country’s financial support to the relief agency by more than half.
Italy has set a fine example for governments which could see the benefit of standing by UNRWA at this critical time, when the peace process on the Palestinian crisis is at a standstill.
The future of UNRWA hangs in the balance in view of the expanded responsibilities and expenses of the Palestinian relief agency as a result of the eight-year conflict in Syria, when hundreds of thousands of Syria’s Palestinian refugees were directly affected by the civil war. Many of them became, once again, either displaced people or refugees in other neighbouring countries.
Rome’s Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting in support of the relief agency for Palestinian refugees, during which Italy announced doubling its support to UNRWA, could have served the purpose of soliciting more active support to the agency, both political and financial, but that was not the case for Washington.
The ministerial meeting was co-chaired by the foreign ministers of Jordan, Sweden and Egypt and attended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to strengthen the message of the international community that this is not the time to let UNRWA down and leave the Palestinian refugees stranded and helpless.
If there is ever a time more opportune to recognise the plight of the Palestinian refugees, it is now, especially when the hope for a US intervention in the stalled peace process is fast dwindling.
To be sure, supporting UNRWA financially cannot be expected on its own to settle the Palestinian conflict, but it can keep the torch of hope for them burning.
Surely, if Italy can contribute more, not less, to the beleaguered Palestinian relief agency, then other nations from the four corners of the world can do the same. Otherwise, the faint hope for a political solution to the Palestinian plight would get extinguished.