UNRWA calls for donations to help fill shortfall

UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” urges donors to help fill $211 million shortfall in funding for 2019.

Elad Benari ,

UNRWA facilities in southern Gaza
UNRWA facilities in southern Gaza
Flash 90

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, on Monday urged its donors to help fill an expected $211 million shortfall in funding for 2019 after the US withdrew its support last year.

"The overall shortfall for this year was estimated at the beginning of the year (at) around $211 million," commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl told a news conference in Jordan, according to the AFP news agency.

The US, which was previously UNRWA's largest contributor, last year cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency.

Last month, the US called for UNRWA to be dismantled. Krahenbuhl rebuffed the call and said the agency cannot be blamed for stalled peace efforts.

After the US cut its funding to UNRWA, several European Union (EU) and Arab countries promised to contribute approximately $50 million each, while the EU itself promised to give $23 million.

"This year we need $1.2 billion that covers all our services," said Krahenbuhl on Monday, adding the agency had kept all services running so far this year but began to run up against deficits this month.

UNRWA was able to fully fund a budget of the same amount in 2018 through budget cuts and new donor contributions.

"The problems that we faced last year have not ended, the US is not reengaging with UNRWA, in fact it has reduced its contribution by further $60 million so we have now lost the entire US funding," he said, adding that he hoped a pledge conference in New York next week would help "mobilize additional funding".