Satement by Estonia at the Ad Hoc Committee of the General Assembly for the Announcement of Voluntary Contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

Mr President,

I would like to thank the organizers of this Pledging Conference. This event is an important opportunity to demonstrate our political support and find ways towards more sustainable funding of the Agency.

Estonia aligns itself with the statement made by the European Union.

First, I would like to thank UNRWA for its strong strategic vision for the future and respect for humanitarian principles. Estonia highly values the important work UNRWA has undertaken to protect, assist and advocate for the Palestinian refugees. We believe that it is crucial to continue supporting the people in need.

Secondly, we highly value the good bilateral cooperation between Estonia and UNRWA on digitalisation in education and supporting the Agency’s digital transformation. We commend UNRWA’s Education Programme that aims during next years to enhance and strengthen ICT in UNRWA schools and vocational training centers, and hence to give UNRWA students the best possible chances to excel both academically and in their future life. Over 550,000 Palestine refugee students who attend Agency schools and vocational training centers, deserve the opportunity to access ICT and become independent actors who can actively and critically engage with digital technology.

We are pleased that Estonian experts contributed to the UNRWA strategy on information and communication technologies for education that was completed in spring and we hope to continue this close cooperation in the field of digital education.

Thirdly, Estonia is deeply concerned that the steep rise of global food prices caused by the Russian illegal, unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine has had disastrous consequences not only for the Ukrainian people, but also for people in Palestine and all over the world. Countries that have been struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic now face further challenges related with food and nutrition security, with increased risks of social unrest and instability. Ukraine is the main exporter of agricultural goods for countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Since the war began, global food prices have risen by a third and fertilizer prices by half. Vulnerable populations depend on Ukrainian exports reaching global markets without delay.

Finally, Estonia has been a longstanding contributor to UNRWA. We are also supporting Palestine people through bilateral projects. I have the pleasure to announce an unearmarked contribution of 80 000 EUR from the Government of Estonia for the UNRWA programmes in the year 2023 and confirm our support for the future.

Thank you.