CAIRO: In comments made Sunday at the opening session of the organization’s 142nd meeting of foreign ministers in Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby criticized the performance of the league towards the current situations in the region.
“The world faces unprecedented challenges, and as a result of reluctance by the Arab League towards these developments, the League is unable to solve any challenge facing any country,” Araby said.
Araby noted the weakness of the organization’s performance was due to differences among the member states and the insistence of each state of not intervening in their affairs. He cited the need to reach an agreement on the Arab League’s interventions by all means militarily and politically to protect any member.
He asked also for an agreement on the creation of a mechanism for peace building and the deployment of international peacekeeping forces if necessary and with the consent of the member states and the concerned country.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said in his speech in the Arab League meeting that the humanitarian aid given to refugees from Iraq and Syria is “insufficient,” noting that the number of Syrian refugees has reached 3 million over the last three years and 6.5 million people have been internally displaced.
He praised the role of the neighboring countries in helping the refugees and said the increasing number of refugees represents challenges for those countries.
Guterres also warned of the danger of increasing numbers of foreign fighters in Iraq and Syria, and said they had become one of the biggest threats to the world.
Regarding the latest conflict between Palestine and Israel, U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner General Pierre Krähenbühl asked for $47 million for four weeks of emergency work in Gaza.
“With funds, now, immediately, UNRWA can facilitate minor repairs like new doors and windows for hundreds of houses before the winter. With funds now we can give cash to thousands of homeless in order to rent temporary rooms and to others to buy essentials to find again their feet,” he said.
He renewed the call of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon from last year in New York to seek the commitment of Arab governments to provide 7.8 percent of UNRWA’s program budget.
Krähenbühl also said that Israel should be held accountable for violations against civilians.
“On seven separate occasions, UNRWA schools used as shelters were hit by shelling or other munitions, and dozens were killed, including children as they slept next to their parents on the floors of our classrooms. We stood up and said this was an affront to all of us, a source of universal shame.
Nothing justified or could imaginably justify Israel’s shelling of U.N. premises being used as civilian shelters, all of which has repeatedly been duly notified precisely to ensure that they would be preserved.
We called for accountability and today I reiterate that call for investigations into these very serious incidents. This must not be forgotten as attention turns understandably to other issues now that the fighting has stopped,” he said.
The chairperson of the session, Mauritanian Foreign Minister Ahmad Ould Tekdi, asked journalists and reporters to leave the session hall when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas started to speak.
Hamas and Fatah reached reconciliation and agreed on a unity government in April, but differences have reemerged between the two after the announcement of a month-long cease-fire agreement, brokered by Egypt, on Aug. 26 following the latest 2-month Israel-Gaza war.
Abbas was invited by the Arab League to attend the session to discuss the latest developments of the conflict with Israel and inter-Palestinian relations.