Tuesday, September 17, 2019

UNRWA’s deficit reduced to $21 million


By Anna Donati - November 20, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UNRWA] [US foreign policy]

UNRWA has finally managed to reduce its deficit for the year 2018 to $21 million, announced Monday 19 its leader Pierre Krähenbühl.

For more than ten years now, UNRWA has been running a deficit. The number of Palestinian refugees is increasing with birth, and their vulnerability has been increased by the war in Syria and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, forcing the UN agency to provide new services.
 
At the beginning of the year, UNRWA management was already forecasting a deficit of $140 million out of a budget of $1.2 billion.
 
But the difficulties were heightened by Donald Trump's decision to drastically cut Washington's aid to this agency.
 
The United States decided in September 2018 to cease almost any participation in the budget of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.
 
The country was the main contributor and the future of the agency seemed uncertain.
 
The United States was to pay $60 million in 2018, up from 365 in previous years.
 
The country was the first contributor to the UNRWA budget, but the new administration, critical of the operation of this agency, announced its withdrawal.
 
The projected deficit of UNRWA then rose to $446 million, putting at risk many of its services and had advanced in particular the doubt on the opening of schools after the summer break, at the end of August.
 
But other countries and institutions mobilized. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar each paid $50 million more.
 
The European Union and its Member States have also increased their aid.
 
Now the deficit has been reduced to $21 million, thanks to collective efforts to safeguard the agency's programs.
 
"It's fantastic," an UNRWA spokesperson said. But the financial challenges remain for next year: these exceptional gifts were for 2018 only.
 
Established in 1949 by the United Nations General Assembly, UNRWA provides assistance and protection to approximately five million Palestinian refugees registered in various Middle Eastern countries.
 
The UN agency provides services in education, social services, infrastructure and camp improvement, health care and emergency assistance.

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