Palestinian refugee agency closes funding gap

22 Nov 18

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has almost closed the $300m funding gap left after the US pulled its contributions, its chief has said.

The Trump administration pulled most of the US funding from the UN Relief and Works Agency in January after a UN vote turned down Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Since this, the European Union has become the agency’s largest donor, Japan has increased its funding and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have contributed $200m, according to the UNRWA chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl.

The chief added that the lack of US funding had made this year difficult for the agency, which runs schools and clinics for millions of Palestinians across the Middle East.

“We decided not to sit back and complain but to reach out and launch a global campaign called ‘dignity is priceless’, and that really mobilised the international community,” he said.

“We have mobilised until now $382m of additional funding, which means we brought the shortfall down to $64m, and we are still in contact with a number of countries; we are hopeful that this shortfall will be brought down further in couple of weeks,” said Kraehenbuehl.

The agency faced a shortfall of $146m in its planned budget of $1.2bn at the beginning of 2018. That grew to $446m after Trump pulled funding.

The UNRWA chief added that new funds would still need to be mobilised to keep the agency funded in the future.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.


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