UNRWA IN FINANCIAL CRISIS; JORDAN WARNS OF 'CATASTROPHE'

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The international community must continue to shoulder its political and moral responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees

AMMAN – A United Nations agency helping Palestinian refugees is facing a severe financial shortfall. Jordan warns of “catastrophic” impact on the lives of millions of refugees in the region.

Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said after meeting visiting UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl the budget crisis facing the agency could deprive refugees of core education, healthcare and food security service that would only “deepen their humanitarian plight.”

“UNRWA faces a dangerous financial deficit that threatens catastrophic consequences on refugees if it is not covered before its financial allocations run out,” Safadi was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry statement.

UNRWA has faced a cash crisis since the United States, long its biggest donor, slashed funding to the agency, providing just $60 million of a promised $365 million this year.

US President Donald Trump withheld the aid after questioning its value and saying Washington would only provide more assistance if the Palestinians agreed to renew peace talks with Israel.

The largest ever reduction in UNRWA's funding has cast doubts about the agency's' long term outlook and has already begun to impact some services. UN officials have said it could even affect the opening of schools at the start of the next academic year.

The agency operates around 700 schools, educating 500,000 refugee children in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

Jordan, which hosts the largest number of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East outside Palestinian territories, was engaged in intensive lobbying with donors, Safadi said.

Several officials have expressed concern about any US drive to dismantle the agency as part of a nascent Middle East peace plan that Washington has promised to unveil soon.

According to diplomats, the plan diverges from longstanding US support for a Palestinian state and backing for a full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in 1967.

“Jordan warns of the danger of touching the role of the UNRWA that should continue to provide its services under its international mandate,” the foreign ministry statement said.

Safadi said the international community must continue to shoulder its political and moral responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees under UN Security Council resolutions that maintain their right of return and compensation.

Among several disputes deadlocking Middle East peace talks has been a demand that as many as 5 million Palestinians be granted the right to return to lands in Israel that they or their kin lost

Founded in 1949, UNRWA serves Palestinian refugees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It is funded mainly by voluntary contributions from UN member states.


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2 thoughts on “UNRWA IN FINANCIAL CRISIS; JORDAN WARNS OF 'CATASTROPHE'

  • August 11, 2018 at 1:50 PM
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    There are several factual errors in this piece. Just one example: the piece concludes with:

    “Founded in 1949, UNRWA serves Palestinian refugees in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. It is funded mainly by voluntary contributions from UN member states.”

    In the so-called “West Bank,” UNRWA primarily serves descendants of refugees, not refugees themselves (most of the refugees have passed away by now, 70 years later.

    Similarly, to claim that there are, “500,000 refugee children in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan” is ludicrous. From what country did the children in the “West Bank” and Gaza seek refuge? The answer, of course, is no country. They were born in those places.

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  • August 11, 2018 at 11:05 AM
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    Interesting article on the site regarding the PLO/PA/Hamas and the pilfering of millions in cash (from international donations), or the acquisition of millions through illegal drug sales which has been going on for quite some time now. Just maybe someone should look into the “how’s” of donated monies slated for the “poor refugee’s” is actually used. With no accountability, or checks to ascertain the monies end, it’s up to Abbas and his corrupt cronies to report the “how’s” of money spent. It’s apparent the pilfered money is having an effect on the people of Gaza.

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