Thursday, September 24, 2020

Palestinian refugee agency depending on EU and Arab funds

By Marc Henry - October 02, 2018
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UN] [UNRWA]

Despite a pledge of $118 million from international donors, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is still facing a deficit of $68 million this year.

It has been a tough year for the UNRWA as they faced a $300 million cut in funds from the single biggest donor, the United States.
The cut of funds have been debated widely this year, and also at the UN General Assembly last week.
At the UN meeting, Jordan’s King Abdullah II pleaded for urgent aid for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to curb the appeal of radicalism after the US ended all support.
“We need to support full funding of UNRWA and other vital efforts to protect families, keep communities stable and prepare young people for productive lives,” Abdullah said.
Before last week’s UN General Assembly managed to raise some additional funds from other contributors, but the agency’s Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl told Al Jazeera that there was a need of raising $185 million to keep operating until the end of 2018 calling it a “very uphill battle”.
“The size of the cut was very, very significant from the US and therefore we are certainly not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” said Krahenbuhl.
A total of 677 schools, 143 health facilities and more than tens of thousands of jobs are at risk as UNRWA struggles to survive its worst ever financial crisis.
However, during the UN General Assembly, UNRWA received good news.
During a ministerial meeting to discuss the Agency’s funding gap, an additional $118 million was raised.
At the event hosted by UNRWA and Jordan, diplomats said Kuwait pledged $42 million and the European Union pledged 40 million Euros to help the Palestinian refugees this year.
Despite the funding, UNRWA is still facing a deficit of $68 million for this year.
“We have dealt with part of the challenge today, which is trying to move closer to addressing the budget deficit that exists,” said Ayman H. Safadi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Jordan.
Furthermore, in January the UNRWA will face the problem of trying to find funding for next year’s budget of about $1.2 billion.
“The key question for next year will be whether these countries that have shown themselves so generous in supporting us this year … are they prepared to sustain those contributions?,” Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl said.

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