UNRWA receives $118 million from donor countries

UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” receives pledges from donor countries following US aid cut.

Ben Ariel,

Pierre Krahenbuhl
Pierre Krahenbuhl
Reuters

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, on Thursday received pledges of $118 million from donor countries to help it overcome a crisis triggered by US funding cuts, AFP reported.

Kuwait and the European Union were among the biggest contributors along with Germany, Ireland and Norway, UNRWA chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl was quoted as having told a news conference. France said it would contribute next year.

The United States, which was by far the biggest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency, announced in August that it would no longer fund the agency.

The announcement came several months after Washington decided to 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.

Kraehenbuehl said on Thursday the new funds were "a significant step in the direction of overcoming UNRWA's greatest and gravest financial crisis ever", adding that the shortfall in the annual budget now stood at $68 million.

Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and territories assigned to the Palestinian Authority.

However, it is also notorious for its anti-Israel activities. During the 2014 counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge, Hamas rockets were discovered inside a school building run by UNRWA.

Likewise, a booby-trapped UNRWA clinic was detonated, killing three IDF soldiers. Aside from the massive amounts of explosives hidden in the walls of the clinic, it was revealed that it stood on top of dozens of terror tunnels, showing how UNRWA is closely embedded with Hamas.

In a more recent incident, the director of UNRWA operations in Gaza expressed his support for the anti-Israel marches along the Israel-Gaza border and pledged that the organization’s medical centers will provide care for “Palestinian refugees” who might sustain injuries during them.

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who co-hosted Thursday’s meeting on UNRWA's funding crisis on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, said discussions were under way on ensuring long-term financing for the agency.

Safadi said the international community had a "firm, unwavering" commitment to keep UNRWA alive and ensure it continues to provide health and education services to “Palestinian refugees”.




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