Select Committee on European Union Written Evidence

Memorandum by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

  On behalf of the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Karen Koning AbuZayd, I am pleased to forward the Agency's views on some of the issues raised in the Sub-Committee's call for evidence. As UNRWA's mandate is humanitarian in nature, our submission does not address matters that we consider to be within the political realm.


  EU involvement has been effective on a number of levels.

  1.  The work of COPPS and BAM in Rafah has facilitated movement in and out of Gaza. This is a critical contribution, as easing movement restrictions is necessary for economic and social recovery in Gaza.

  2.  The TIM is an important conduit for reaching some of those in need, but it has limited scope and is no substitute for removing the sanctions regime, providing fiscal and budgetary support for the Palestinian Authority (PA) and furnishing development assistance that builds capacity and improves governance.

  3.  The first-hand involvement of Office of the EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy and its willingness to engage with humanitarian actors on the ground is a very appreciated and important aspect of the EU's involvement in the region.

  4.  EU statements are highly regarded and could be usefully complemented by member states. The post-election policy of the EU (along with others) of isolating the PA and suspending all fiscal and budgetary support to it and all those who work for it, while providing military and economic support to the Palestinian Presidency has been devastating to the Palestinian polity. This policy has, contributed to an extreme humanitarian crisis, profound human suffering and intensified internal conflict.


  The EU is an important stakeholder of and a generous donor to UNRWA. It has played a vital role in furthering transparency and improved governance within the Agency through its encouragement of results-based budgeting and the refining of indicators to better measure performance. UNRWA area staff number some 27,000, and improved organizational governance may have a positive influence on attitudes to peace.


  Resumption of support to the PA is critical to easing the political, economic and social collapse in Gaza. The EU provided electoral support for parliamentary elections which it deemed had been conducted in a free and fair manner. The current embargo of the PA appears contradictory to the aims of the electoral support. In addition to support for democracy and self-government, EU policy could, as a matter of priority, strengthen Palestinian economic viability with a view to promoting stability in the region. This requires urgent efforts to convince the Government of Israel to allow Palestinian goods to be exported freely. Palestinians in the oPt are being systematically impoverished and isolated by expropriation of land; by fragmentation of the West Bank; by the effects of the barrier including the sealing off of Jerusalem; and other closure policies. Violations of international law are depriving Palestinians of the protections due to them. The right to life and freedom from arbitrary arrest, are frequently violated. Resumption of the peace process depends upon halting such policies. The failure of states and other actors to respect and comply with IHL and human rights law is the cause of a high number of deaths and injuries among civilians in the oPt. A consistent and strong stance against violations of IHL has been conspicuously missing. We would like to see the EU taking concrete steps to call the concerned states and actors to account under relevant provisions of international law.

Michael Kingsley-Nyinah

Director of the Executive Office

5 March 2007

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