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UNRWA Chief Criticizes US Funding Cuts

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UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl Wednesday noted that the $60 million contribution to his agency from the United States was "dramatically" below past levels.


In a statement released by the UNRWA official, he said the 2017 contribution by the US had been above $350 million.

"Not for the first time in its proud history, UNRWA faces a formidable challenge in upholding its mandate - an expression of the will of the international community - and preserving key services like education and healthcare for Palestine Refugees," the UNRWA Commissioner-General said.

In a letter Tuesday, the State Department notified the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that the US is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment to the body. The letter also made clear that additional US donations will be contingent on major changes within UNRWA.

The agency has been seen as a valuable lifeline for Palestinian refugees by the international community, which has repeatedly renewed its mandate.

Krahenbuhl acknowledged that any humanitarian donation is the "discretion of any sovereign member state of the United Nations," while pointing out that this decision by the Trump administration is a break from longstanding "strong, generous and committed support" to the agency by the US since UNRWA began operations in 1950.

The agency has been struggling financially in recent years, with Krahenbuhl saying now the agency was "confronted with the most dramatic financial crisis in UNRWA's history."

In order to continue providing services for the over 5 million refugees and their descendants that currently rely on UNRWA, he called on UN member states, UNRWA partners, host countries and "people of good will in every corner of the globe" to rally in support of the agency and Palestinian refugees.

He said a global fundraising campaign would be launched in the next few days.
"At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future. At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At stake is the access of refugees to primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community," Krahenbuhl said.

He also assured Palestinian refugees of the agency's "absolute determination" to ensure UNRWA services continue.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team