The 1948 mass displacement, known as the Nakba (meaning “catastrophe” in Arabic), has significance for Palestinians worldwide, said Rosemary DiCarloUnder-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, speaking at a high-level event at UN headquarters in New York marking the day.

“The occupation must end”

“The legacy of the event lives on, leading us to continue our unforgettable efforts to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” she said, noting that the General Assembly had adopted a resolution in November 2022 for this holiday.

Currently, the Israeli and Palestinian road to peace and the implementation of an agreed two-state solution follows decades pockmarked by war, flaming tensionsviolence and multiple negotiation processes.

DiCarlo expressed deep concern about diminished prospects for jump-starting the peace process toward creating a two-state solution, given the current landscape of Israeli settlement expansion in occupied territory, recent violenceand Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights.

“Palestinians deserve a life of justice and dignity and the realization of theirs right to self-determination and independence,” She said. “The UN’s position is clear: the occupation must end. A two-state solution must be achieved in line with international law. We want to see an independent state of Palestine living side by side with Israel in peace.”

1948 “disaster”

For the Palestinians, the massive displacement of 1948 meant that families took what they could carry or were transported in trucks, from their homes to areas outside the new state of Israel.

The United Nations agency created to serve the displaced population (UNRWA), reports it 5.9 million Palestinians are currently registered as refugees.

The somber anniversary highlights the world’s longest protracted refugee crisis and serves as a stark reminder that Palestinian refugees continue to live amid conflict, violence and occupation while striving for a just and lasting solution to their plight, said United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Palestinian People.

“The memory will remain”

The morning event brought together UN member states and high-level speakers, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Nakba memory will remain; it will continue to motivate our people to end the occupation,” Abbas said. “The occupation will end. The Palestinian right will prevail sooner or later, so that peace can reign in our region and in the world.”

“Longest unsolved refugee crisis”

“The Palestinian refugee emergency remains the same longest unresolved refugee crisis in the world,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in a video message.

“More than ever, they requires our collective solidarity,” he said. “There is simply no alternative to a political solution for all. Until such a day, there is no alternative to UNRWA; we must continue to support them until a just solution is finally found to their plight.”

Special commemorative event

On Monday night, the UN headquarters will host one special event and concertfeaturing footage and performances by Palestinian singer Sanaa Moussa, cellist and composer Naseem Alatrash and the New York Arabic Orchestra, directed by four-time Grammy winner Eugene Friesen.

Read more about what UNRWA does for Palestinian refugees here.