Middle East

UN Palestine refugee agency faces $200mn budget deficit

US administration cut financial aid for UNRWA last year, leading to unprecedented funding crisis

Ali Abo Rezeg   | 23.05.2019
UN Palestine refugee agency faces $200mn budget deficit

GAZA CITY, Palestine 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)’s budget deficit currently stands at $200 million, according to an agency official.

At a Thursday press conference in Gaza City, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl vowed the agency would nevertheless “continue to provide services to Palestinian refugees as mandated by the UN”.

Israel, for its part, has continued to call for the termination of UNRWA and all its activities.

In August of last year, the U.S. administration halted all financial support for UNRWA, plunging the agency into a major funding crisis.

Many Palestinians believe the move was aimed at undermining the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

Krahenbuhl, for his part, says UNRWA is sparing no effort to raise desperately-needed funds.

Last year, he asserted, 42 countries and organizations had helped UNRWA overcome its acute funding crisis.

Continued financial assistance, Krahenbuhl added, “remains crucial to maintaining refugees’ safety and dignity”.

UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949. It is tasked with aiding and protecting Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip.

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