Tags: palestinian refugees | aid money | united nations | united states

US Is Said to Withhold Added $45 Million in Palestinian Aid

US Is Said to Withhold Added $45 Million in Palestinian Aid
A Palestinian man carries sacks of flour provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East at a distribution centre in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, Gaza, Jan. 18, 2018. (Wissam Nassar/Ap)

Thursday, 18 January 2018 03:22 PM

The U.S. State Department is reneging on a pledge to contribute $45 million in food aid, health services and other relief it promised to deliver to Palestinian refugees by early January, adding to cutbacks announced earlier this week, according to people familiar with the matter.

In a letter dated Dec. 17, State Department Comptroller Eric Hembree told the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, that it would pay the money in response to a West Bank and Gaza Emergency Appeal "by or before early January 2018," said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing internal State Department matters.

But that money has now been frozen as part of U.S. demands for changes in UNRWA. President Donald Trump questioned the value of sending such aid after Palestinian leaders said they would reject any U.S. role in mediating peace talks with Israel after Trump announced plans to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

After much delay, the administration agreed this week to pay $60 million to the group to cover salaries and other administrative costs, while withholding an additional $65 million normally paid all at once.

But the $60 million that was provided can't be used for any other purpose. The $45 million now being withheld leaves UNRWA in the lurch because it had already purchased food aid and other supplies after it received the Dec. 17 pledge letter from the State Department.

A State Department spokesman declined to comment on the issue when asked on Thursday. The U.S. is by far the largest contributor to UNRWA, having provided more than $350 million last year. Administration officials say other countries should contribute more.

In a statement this week announcing the decision to withhold $65 million in UNRWA funding for now, the State Department called on other nations to "do their part and respond as needed" if there were additional urgent needs.

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The U.S. State Department is reneging on a pledge to contribute $45 million in food aid, health services and other relief it promised to deliver to Palestinian refugees by early January, adding to cutbacks announced earlier this week, according to people familiar with the...
palestinian refugees, aid money, united nations, united states
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2018-22-18
Thursday, 18 January 2018 03:22 PM
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