30 June 2009

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

'Sense of Solidarity and Justice' Brings World Together to Mark 60th Anniversary of Palestine Refugee Agency

Video message to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East sixtieth anniversary concert in Vienna, 30 June 2009

VIENNA, 30 June (UN Information Service)

President Heinz Fischer of Austria,
Mayor Michael Häupl of the city of Vienna,
Commissioner-General Karen AbuZayd of UNRWA,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to share my warm wishes to all assembled in this historic square, as well as all those following the broadcast around the world.

Tonight promises to be a magical evening of music and poetry. Artists who perform with their heart and soul often have a special gift to cross the boundaries of faith, race and social class. They remind us of our shared humanity as well as our shared responsibility to build a better world.

That sense of solidarity and justice is what brings us here tonight as we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the UN agency responsible for Palestine refugees, UNRWA.

We also honor a people who have shown great courage in the face of conflict. A people who have strived to better their lives and those of their children, in particular through education. That effort will gain new support with a scholarship fund for Palestinian refugee students to be launched here in Vienna - and generously supported by the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries)Fund for International Development.

I also wish to pay tribute to the great musician featured tonight. Marcel Khalife is a man of humble origins, who empathized at an early age with the plight of those living as refugees in his native Lebanon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When UNRWA was established in 1949, no one anticipated that its humanitarian and human development work would be needed for this long. But, until there is a final settlement of the conflict, I am confident that UNRWA will continue to be a source of strength and support for millions of Palestinian refugees.

My best wishes to all for a memorable evening.

Let us take the spirit of this night to build a peaceful tomorrow for the people of the region and, indeed, the world.

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