UNRWA: We need money

Spokesman for UN agency for "Palestinian refugees" asks international community to continue assisting the organization.

Dalit Halevi,

Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Sami Mshasha, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), told the Palestinian Authority-based WAFA news agency on Thursday that UNRWA’s future is not determined by one party or another, but rather by the Member States of the United Nations.

Mshasha said that describing UNRWA as “irredeemably flawed” and that it is “running on fumes” is far from the truth, a reference to comments made on Wednesday by US envoy Jason Greenblatt during a Security Council meeting.

Mshasha added that attempts to hold UNRWA responsible for the failure of the international community in finding a just solution to the refugee issue is an obvious attempt to divert attention away from a political solution to the “Palestinian refugee” issue.

He thanked the countries that continue to support UNRWA and called on the international community to urgently support UNRWA budget and its vital programs.

He stressed the importance of supporting it and to participate in the fundraising conference which will be held in New York on 25 June.

Regarding the current financial situation and the liquidity of UNRWA, Mshasha said "the money that will enable us to continue our operations will deplete by the middle of next month, which will affect our ability to provide regular and emergency services such as providing food and other essential assistance to one million refugees in Gaza, not to mention its impact on our overall educational, health and relief operations.”

Earlier on Thursday, UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl rebuffed Greenblatt’s criticism, saying the agency cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts.

Last year, the US State Department ceased its contributions to UNRWA. In response, several European Union (EU) and Arab countries promised to contribute approximately $50 million each, while the EU itself promised to give $23 million.

In November, UNRWA claimed to have nearly overcome the financial crisis caused by the lack of US funding.

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.