UNRWA needs $1.2 billion to fund 'life-saving' humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees

Ahram Online , Tuesday 29 Jan 2019

Palestinians hold signs during a protest against aid cut, outside United Nations' offices in Gaza City January 17, 2018. REUTERS

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) needs $1.2 billion to fund “vital core services and life-saving humanitarian aid,” the agency's chief Pierre Krähenbühl said on Tuesday.

According to UNRWA's statement, this amount of money is required to keep its "operations at the same level as in 2018" for 5.4 million Palestinian refugees.

This call for support comes in light of last year's decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump to cut $300 million of its contribution to UNRWA, causing a financial crisis.

“As we faced the most severe financial challenge in our proud history, it was both humbling and inspiring to have witnessed the extent and generosity of the response from host and donor governments, from within the United Nations and NGO partners, from civil society and individuals. I wish to convey my heartfelt gratitude for this exemplary commitment and solidarity,” said Krähenbühl.

UNRWA highlighted a number of challenges that will be facing the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria — regions where it provides humanitarian, health and educational services for Palestinian refugees — including violence, incursions and a lack of freedom of movement.

It also referred to the lack of employment opportunities, increasing levels of food insecurity and psychological trauma, describing them as "alarming and expanding."

Concerning Syria, UNRWA referred to other challenges, including "many acute consequences for Palestine refugees in the country and beyond, from displacement to loss of livelihoods, as well as the daily struggle to survive the immense adversity imposed by eight years of war."

“During the extreme crisis we faced last year, we promised to show maximum resolve and creativity. We lived up to that commitment and are proud of this. At the same time, we remember that the successful campaign to overcome the shortfall came with a cost. Some services were impacted and some staff members lost their jobs, which we deeply regret", stated Krähenbühl.

"Out of respect for the refugee community and UNRWA staff, we will continue to demonstrate absolute determination in mobilising political and financial support for the Agency. We will also remain very honest about how difficult it will be and the fact that UNRWA will continue to face major challenges. We must remain united and show the cohesion that was such an important part of our success last year.”  

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