MOPAN says UNRWA 'competent, resilient and resolute' amid funding constraints

Ahram Online , Tuesday 11 Jun 2019

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian employees of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) take part in a protest against job cuts by UNRWA, in Gaza City September 19, 2018. REUTERS

A group of the 18 countries described the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) “as competent, resilient and resolute” in its performance assessment report for the UN body.

The Multilateral Organisation Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) assesses the effectiveness of the multilateral organisations that it funds for “accountability needs as a source of input for strategic decision-making.”

MOPAN includes Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. It also has two observers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and New Zealand.

“The organisation [UNRWA] is achieving humanitarian and development results in a challenging and resource-constrained environment in ways that reflect a well-managed organisation. By and large, its organisational performance remains on a positive trajectory,” concluded MOPAN in its 2017-2018 report on UNRWA that was issued this month.

The MOPAN report identified four major strengths in 2018.

Firstly, UNRWA is highly knowledgeable about its mandate and context given its long-standing engagement in the region and the strength of its workforce.

Secondly, UNRWA has a well-considered and robust results-based monitoring system.

Thirdly, UNRWA’s education and health programmes have high technical capacity as well as a proven capability to operate efficiently.

Fourthly, UNRWA continues to balance a cautious and rigorous approach to risk management with an increasingly strategic approach to how and with whom it engages.

The report also suggested four areas for improvement, including the need for UNRWA to benefit from addressing the lack of strategic evaluation, to work towards improving its approach to cross-cutting issues, to become more strategic in how it manages its workforces and to consider the ways that suit an environment of very limited programme budget allocation for staffing and resources to further protection.

The US administration of President Donald Trump cut hundreds of millions of dollars that go to fund UNRWA in January 2018. Speaking to Ahram Online in July 2018, UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness said the United States vowed in 2017 to fund UNRWA with $365 million, though they have now cut the sum by $305 million.

The UN relief and human development organisation has provided socio-economic backing to Palestinian refugees since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Serving about 5 million Palestinian refugees, it provides them with multi-dimensional assistance in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The programmes of UNRWA cover a wide array of issues, including food and cash assistance, livelihoods, community mental health, education, shelter, water and sanitation.

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