UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem
UNRWA school in eastern Jerusalem Reuters

The Arab League on Thursday urged donor states to fill in the large gap in the funding of UNRWA, the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit warned that UNRWA's budget deficit "foreshadows a serious crisis that might hit the communities of Palestinian refugees in the agency's five areas of operations," the pan-Arab organization said in a statement quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

Aboul-Gheit's remarks came during his meeting with UNRWA Acting Commissioner-General Christian Saunders at the Arab League headquarters in Egyptian capital Cairo.

During the meeting, Saunders explained that UNRWA's financial deficit almost reached $1.1 billion, noting that the agency seeks to attract new donor states to help containing the crisis.

The UNRWA official urged donor states to continue their support for the agency to maintain its operations and keep opening the schools and hospitals serving the Palestinians.

The US, which was previously UNRWA's largest contributor, cut a full $300 million in funding to the agency in 2018, leaving it strapped for cash and asking other countries to help fill the gap.

Saunders said recently that UNRWA is facing the worst financial crisis in its history and has a budget deficit of $332 million.

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.