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UN Palestinian Agency in Urgent Search for Cash at Global Gathering

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Local Editor

Global powers will gather in Rome on Thursday to discuss the future of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, which faces an unprecedented crisis after the US froze tens of millions of dollars in funding.

UNRWA

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) only has enough funds to keep schools and medical services open until May, its commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl told AFP.

US President Donald Trump's administration has so far committed only $60 million to the agency this year, down from $360 million in 2017.

He has frozen two planned payments worth more than $100 million -- one for UNRWA's central budget and one for food aid.

Trump continues to pressure the Palestinians to end their boycott of his administration sparked by his December recognition of the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

A major funding drive launched by UNRWA after the US freeze has raised little new money and diplomats are not optimistic about getting major pledges in the Italian capital.

UN officials want European countries to step in to fill part of the gap but are especially looking at Gulf Arab countries.

Fear is rife about the future of the organization that employs more than 20,000 people across the Middle East, the vast majority Palestinians.

UNRWA was established after the war surrounding "Israel's" creation in 1948 when around 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled.

It offers vital support for these refugees and their descendants in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza, providing services for more than three million people.

This includes education for around half a million students, with nearly 30 percent of its funding coming from the United States.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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