The United States has ended all funding for the UN refugee agency UNRWA amid pledges by donors to step in to fill in the gap caused by the U.S. aid cut.
But on Friday, the U.S. State Department said Washington “will no longer commit further funding” to UNRWA.
The move comes a few months after Washington officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, triggering outcry in the Muslim world.
The U.S. was by far UNRWA’s largest funder, giving $350 million annually, or about one-quarter of the agency’s budget.
US is cutting all funding for the UN agency that assists millions of Palestinian refugees
Posted by TRT World on Saturday, 1 September 2018
The UN refugee agency currently faces a budget deficit of $270m for the remainder of the year since Washington slashed its aid to the agency earlier this year.
“The responsibility for the protracted nature of the Palestine refugee-hood, the growing number of refugees and the growth in needs, lies squarely with the parties and in the international community’s lack of will or utter inability to bring about a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine,” UNRWA commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl said in an open letter.
“The attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is disingenuous at best. At no time over the past eight months were we notified of the specific reasons for the dramatic cut.”
Several donors have pledged to increase funding for the UN refugee agency following the U.S. aid cut.
“The EU is committed to secure the continuation and sustainability of the agency’s work which is vital for stability and security in the region,” the European Union said in a statement.
“The EU and its member states, and many others in the international community, including many Arab states, have pledged their support to the continuity of the work that UNRWA is doing.”
In recent years, the EU has been the second-largest contributor. It pledged more than $142 million in 2017.
Germany also pledged more funding for UNRWA.
“The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
He said while Berlin contributed $94 million to UNRWA this year, it was prepared to increase its financial aid.
Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney also pledged a financial aid raise for the agency.
“Ireland is a long-standing supporter of UNRWA,” Coveney said. “We will continue that assistance and discuss with our EU and other partners what more can be done to support its work.”
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi said his country will rally donor support to ease UNRWA’s financial crisis.
“Disruption of UNRWA services will have extremely dangerous humanitarian, political and security implications for refugees and for the whole region,” Safadi said.
Jordan hosts more than two million registered Palestinian refugees.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation.
Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. U
NRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.