Arab woman outsides UNRWA headquarters in Gaza
Arab woman outsides UNRWA headquarters in Gaza Reuters

A donors' conference will be held next month to help fill a funding gap at the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” in the wake of the U.S. cutting its aid to the agency, Sweden's deputy UN ambassador said Tuesday, according to AFP.

The U.S. recently 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.

The American cut followed tweets by President Donald Trump in which he questioned the wisdom of providing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian Authority given their refusal to resume peace talks with Israel.

The March 15 conference in Rome, hosted by Sweden, Jordan and Egypt, will be attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. Both officials have called on countries to step in and fill the gap left from the U.S. cuts.

"What we need is for UNRWA to maintain its services. This is not only a humanitarian imperative, it's also critical for the stability in the broader region," said Sweden Deputy Ambassador Carl Skau.

Conference organizers are closely coordinating with the United States "who are supportive" of the effort, he added.

Since the U.S. decision, noted AFP, Kuwait has stepped in to contribute $900,000 and about 15 donor countries, including Sweden and Japan, decided to speed up their donations to keep UNRWA afloat.

UNRWA's representative in New York warned a few weeks ago that UNRWA is facing an "existential financial crisis" following the U.S. cut.

In early February, the European Parliament approved a resolution urging the United States “to reconsider its decision and to honor the payment of its entire scheduled contribution to” UNRWA.

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