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UNRWA concerned over statements made by Jerusalem's mayor

Oct. 5, 2018 5:00 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 7, 2018 12:21 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Near East (UNRWA) expressed its deep concern, on Friday, over statements made by the Israeli mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, on its operations and installations in occupied East Jerusalem.

UNRWA responded to Barkat's statements made on Thursday regarding planning to remove the United Nations' agency for Palestinian refugees from occupied East Jerusalem, which he accused of "operating illegally and promoting incitement against Israel."

Barkat confirmed that UN schools, which serve about 1,800 students enrolled, would be closed by the end of the current school year.

UNRWA said in a statement that it conducts humanitarian operations "in conformity with the UN Charter, bilateral and multilateral agreements that continue in force, and relevant General Assembly resolutions."

UNRWA added "The agency is specifically mandated by the UN General Assembly to deliver protection and assistance to Palestine refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, pending a resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians."

"Such messaging challenges the core principles of impartial and independent humanitarian action and does not reflect the robust and structured dialogue and interaction that UNRWA and the State of Israel have traditionally maintained."

UNRWA was founded by the UN, following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, to help resettle nearly 700,000 Palestinians after the Arab-Israeli war.

The agency currently provides essential services such as education, health care, and social services to some 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the occupied Palestinian territories, and the besieged Gaza Strip.

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