UNRWA facing 'existential financial crisis', warns official

UNRWA representative in New York warns agency is facing financial crisis following U.S. funding cut.

Ben Ariel, Canada,

Arab woman outsides UNRWA headquarters in Gaza
Arab woman outsides UNRWA headquarters in Gaza
Reuters

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, is facing an "existential financial crisis" following the United States' decision to cut some of its funding to the organization, UNRWA's representative in New York said Friday, according to AFP.

The U.S. recently announced it would cut some of its funding to UNRWA, citing a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of the organization, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded.

The American cut came following recent tweets by President Donald Trump in which he questioned the wisdom of providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

One month after the American cut, UNRWA officials said on Friday, only one country, Kuwait, has stepped forward to offer additional funding.

Kuwait stepped in to contribute $900,000 and about 15 donor countries including Sweden and Japan decided to speed up their donations to keep UNRWA afloat, said Peter Mulrean, UNRWA's representative in New York.

Mulrean warned in a conversation with reporters that the agency was facing an "existential financial crisis" as it seeks to fill the gap from the U.S. funding cut.

"The U.S. has not yet explained to us the rationale behind its decision on the $60 million," Mulrean said, adding that Washington had not presented any concerns about reforms.

UNRWA's director for the “West Bank”, Scott Andersen, said all of the agency's services remain up and running for the time being, but that the decision had left many Palestinians anxious.

"People are frightened and concerned about what this means for them, their families and their future," he said, according to AFP.

On Thursday, the European Parliament approved a resolution urging the United States “to reconsider its decision and to honor the payment of its entire scheduled contribution to” UNRWA.

UNRWA has long been a target for criticism in light of Hamas's activity in its educational institutions and the use of its facilities by Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations in Gaza.

The agency was documented storing Hamas rockets and weapons "designed to kill Israeli citizens" in its schools, a fact which the UNRWA chief admitted himself.

In addition, the organization has actively taken part in inciting anti-Semitic violence.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)


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