World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey's experiences in working with Syrian refugees and its traditional closeness to the Palestinian cause can be an asset for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), its chief told Anadolu Agency in an exclusive interview.
Ahead of a trip to Turkey on Tuesday, UNRWA's Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl voiced hope his meetings with Turkish officials and development agencies could open up new opportunities for partnership, especially before Turkey takes a key role as Vice-Chair of the agency's Advisory Commission next year.
"Turkey has been supportive of UNRWA activities, in particular through a mix of food assistance and cash support to our organization but we’re very keen to see what other opportunities there would be and would exist in the future," Krahenbuhl said.
“I’m very keen to look at areas of mutual interest in education but I know that historically there has been a strong focus on Gaza and the tension there, so if we can expand further the areas of cooperation in that regard, that would be very welcome,” he said.
UNRWA works with more than five million Palestinian refugees across the occupied Palestinian territories, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon but has struggled with funding instability, almost leading to the start of the school year being delayed last year, with an expected $115 million funding shortfall next year.
With much of world attention focused on other crises in the Middle East, Krahenbuhl said UNRWA has had to work to raise awareness about Palestinian refugees to ensure they do not fall off the international agenda at a time when many in Syria and the blockaded Gaza Strip remain especially vulnerable.
“This is certainly an area where I’m very interested to have Turkey’s voice heard in these debates,” he said.
"For me, it’s just important that the historic support and focus that Turkey has on the issue of Palestine and Palestinian refugees remains. And I think from everything that I’m seeing in the preparation of this visit, the signs are very strong in the regard,” said Krahenbuhl, who will also brief Turkish officials on UNRWA's work with Palestinian refugees during his trip.
Last Mod: 20 Kasım 2016, 14:01