UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl
UNRWA chief Pierre Krahenbuhl Reuters

UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”, on Saturday praised Saudi Arabia for transferring $50 million it had pledged to the agency in November.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl in a statement “expressed his deep recognition and gratitude for the disbursement of this remarkable financial support, which comes in fulfilment of the pledge made by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques, during the Arab Summit in April this year.”

“We are extremely grateful for the generous support consistently provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in recent years. The exemplary 2018 donation of USD50 million to UNRWA’s core services is a new milestone in our important cooperation,” said Krahenbuhl.

The statement praised Saudi Arabia as “a valued partner to UNRWA.”

“This year alone, the Kingdom has contributed over $160 million towards the Agency including projects across its five fields of operations making it one of the largest donors to UNRWA’s work for Palestine refugees,” it added.

UNRWA has been experiencing financial difficulties after the United States, the largest single contributor to UNRWA, announced in August that it would end its $350 million a year funding for the agency, describing the organization as an “irredeemably flawed operation”.

That announcement followed a previous US announcement in January that it would cut some of its funding to UNRWA due to a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of the organization, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded.

Since the US announced its funding cut, the organization has received pledges of $100 million in additional funding from countries such as Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France as a means of making up for the aid that was cut by Washington.

The European Union recently announced it would commit a further 20 million euros ($23 million) to UNRWA.

Created in 1949, UNRWA supplies aid to more than three million of the five million people who are registered as “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.

Just this week, the Geneva-based watchdog UN Watch revealed that UNRWA posted a tweet glorifying a Palestinian Arab terrorist, before deleting it and blaming alleged "brief, unauthorized access" to its Twitter account.