IPI HomeEventsSpeakers EventsFilippo Grandi: Palestinian Refugee Question Stagnating


print print  |  share share back back

Speaker Events - Friday, November 04, 2011

Filippo Grandi: Palestinian Refugee Question Stagnating

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), told an IPI audience that the question of accommodating the wishes of the Palestinian refugees was “suffering a particular stagnation,” leaving them profoundly frustrated at their continuing  plight six decades after the partition of the land they once inhabited.
“The refugee question tends to be pushed towards the end of the discussion,” Mr. Grandi said of the talks over the ongoing impasse with Israel. “This adds to the frustration of people who have been waiting for a solution to their problem for so long.”

Mr. Grandi’s agency is charged with bringing education, health, relief, and social services to as many as five million Palestinian refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Mr. Grandi spoke on November 4th as part of IPI’s SRSG (Special Representative of the Secretary-General) series that affords leading UN representatives in the field a chance to communicate their on-the-ground experience directly to members of the UN and foreign policy community in New York.   

He also spoke as the UN community was focusing on the evolving debate over a possible move by Palestinian authorities to achieve statehood at the UN, through a vote of the Security Council or General Assembly.  Mr. Grandi said that “the statehood question, in and of itself, does not address the refugee question.”  

He said that he shared the Secretary-General’s view “that the aspirations of the Palestinians to have a state is legitimate,” but added that it was not for him to judge how they achieved that aspiration.  He said that the matter “has to be solved through negotiations, through the political domain” and must involve the Palestinian refugees themselves.

“Any solution that does not involve direct consultations with refugees themselves in some way, whatever solution is arrived at without this sense of involvement will not be durable,” he said.

The meeting was chaired by Warren Hoge, IPI’s Senior Adviser for External Relations.

Listen to Global Observatory interview with Filippo Grandi >>

Watch video of event:

The Global Observatory

Is the Flood of Violent Images Further Dividing the West and the Middle East?
Though the majority of Middle East populations are concerned with peace and security, many outsiders perceive them as only interested in violence and extremism.

Key Global Events to Watch in April
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.

2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.

The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.

Recent Events

April 05, 2014
IPI Opens Middle East Regional Office
International Peace Institute President Terje Rød-Larsen inaugurated IPI’s new Middle East Regional Office with a recognition of the area’s critical importance to the world and the rapid political changes underway in the countries of the region, and he asserted that IPI has an “important role” to play there.

April 03, 2014
In Horn of Africa, Links Between Disaster, Conflict, and Displacement
What are the links between climate change, conflict, and the displacement of people? A panel of experts discussed this nexus and its implications in the Horn of Africa at the International Peace Institute on April 3rd in an event cosponsored by the Nansen Initiative.

March 26, 2014
Derek Plumbly on Lebanese Resilience Amid Rising Challenges
Lebanon has exceeded expectations in dealing with the continuing fallout from the crisis in neighboring Syria, said Derek Plumbly, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, on March 26th. Speaking at the International Peace Institute, Mr. Plumbly praised the Lebanese people for “actually sustaining a measure of stability in their country.”

View More