Ayman Safadi
Ayman SafadiReuters

Jordan on Saturday said it regretted a U.S. decision to halt funding to UNRWA, the United Nations agency for “Palestinian refugees”, warning the decision would only fuel radicalism and harm prospects for Middle East peace.

Jordanian Foreign Minster Ayman Safadi told Reuters that his country, which hosts more than two million of the over five million people registered as “Palestinian refugees” whom the agency supports, would continue to rally donor support to ease the financial crunch faced by the agency.

“Disruption of UNRWA services will have extremely dangerous humanitarian, political and security implications for refugees and for the whole region,” Safadi told the news agency.

“It will only consolidate an environment of despair that would ultimately create fertile grounds for further tension. Politically it will also further hurt the credibility of peacemaking efforts,” he warned.

On Thursday, a day before the U.S. announcement, Safadi announced his country will host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 27 in a bid to keep UNRWA afloat.

He told Reuters on Saturday the meeting seek to “rally political and financial support for the agency”.

“We will do everything possible to ensure that UNRWA gets the funds it needs to continue offering its services to Palestinian refugees,” Safadi added.

Friday’s announcement by Washington came several months after it 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.

UNRWA recently said it had managed to pay salaries and provide some services, but also said there was still a large budget deficit of $256 million.

Safadi said the international community’s support for the agency was inseparable from future talks on the fate of “refugees”.

“The status of refugees is not determined by any one single country, it is determined under international law and as such no country can take away that status,” he told Reuters.

Earlier on Saturday, the European Union (EU) urged the U.S. to reconsider its "regrettable" decision to cut funding to UNRWA and indicated it would continue to fund the organization.

"The EU is committed to secure the continuation and sustainability of the agency’s work which is vital for stability and security in the region," a statement emphasized, adding that "many others in the international community, including many Arab states, have pledged their support to the continuity of the work that UNRWA is doing."