Tags: aid to palestine | united nations | un relief and works agency

UNRWA Calls on UN Member States After US Cuts $65M from Palestinian Aid

UNRWA Calls on UN Member States After US Cuts $65M from Palestinian Aid
Palestinian men rest on sacks of flour at the United Nations food distribution center in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Gaza, Jan. 15, 2018. (Wissam Nassar/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:20 PM

Palestinians who receive aid from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency on Wednesday slammed the United States for cutting tens of millions of dollars for the program while the agency pressed new donors to come forward to cover the difference, the Washington Post reports.

"After decades of generous support, dramatic reduction of US funding to @UNRWA results in most critical financial situation in history of Agency," UNRWA commissioner general, Pierre Krähenbühl, tweeted in French. "I call on member states of the United Nations to take a stand & demonstrate to Palestine Refugees that their rights & future matter."

The Trump administration notified the agency Tuesday that the U.S. was withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million and that additional U.S. donations were contingent on major changes by UNRWA.

"We would like to see some reforms be made," said State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, adding that changes are needed both to the way the agency operates and is funded. "This is not aimed at punishing anyone."

The U.S. is UNWRA's largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget. The agency focuses on providing health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Ahmed al-Assar, whose family has been receiving aid from UNRWA for nearly 12 years, called the reduction, "a death sentence."

"I work part-time in construction, but that is not enough to cover all my expenses," the 42-year-old said Wednesday. "Any reduction of aid would be a death sentence for refugees in Gaza. The work is almost nonexistent. There are not enough jobs. Those who work for the Palestinian Authority receive only a stipend, and Hamas employees get a quarter of their salary."

Added Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian delegation to the U.S., "The access of Palestinian refugees and children to basic humanitarian services such as food, health care and education should not be a bargaining chip, but a U.S. and international obligation."

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Palestinians who receive aid from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency on Wednesday slammed the United States for cutting tens of millions of dollars for the program while the agency pressed new donors to come forward to cover the difference, the Washington Post reports.
aid to palestine, united nations, un relief and works agency
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2018-20-17
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:20 PM
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