RAMALLAH, May 23 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) dismissed on Wednesday the remarks of Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis against the agency as "shocking and surprising."
Such remarks "came amid the frantic attempts of Israeli and other parties to undermine the role of UNRWA as a humanitarian institution," Sami Mshasha, spokesman of UNRWA, said in a radio statement.
Last week, Cassis described UNRWA as "an obstacle in the face of peace in the Middle East" in a press statement, adding that the U.S. decision to stop funding the agency is understandable.
Meanwhile, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, slammed Cassis' attack on the UN relief agency for Palestine.
Erekat demanded an official apology from the Swiss minister, saying both the Palestinian people and their leadership are outraged at his remarks.
Palestine rejects "integrating the Palestinian refugees in the countries where they reside," as they "uphold their inalienable right to return," he noted.
UNRWA provides assistance to Palestinian refugees in five main areas: the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
Its services include education, health care, relief, social services, infrastructure, camp improvement and microcredit for Palestinian refugees.