UNRWA facing deficit of $150 million

525,000 students will begin the school year in 711 UNRWA schools, says organization's spokesman.

Dalit Halevi ,

Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Sami Mushasha, the official spokesman of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, said on Monday that more than 525,000 students will begin the school year in 711 of the organization’s schools in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Gaza, Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

In a statement, Mushasha said that all preparations for the school year at UNRWA’s schools have already been completed, despite UNRWA's difficult financial challenges.

UNRWA is reportedly facing a budget deficit of $150 million and its annual budget stands at $1 billion and $200 million.

The comments follow a recently released UN report which found alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of UNRWA, including involving the organization’s top official, Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl.

In the wake of the report, Switzerland said it was suspending funding to UNRWA. The Netherlands followed Switzerland and suspended its contribution to the organization as well.

The US, meanwhile, asked the UN for clarifications on the investigation into the alleged corruption.

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

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.