United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has urgent budget crisis

Cameroon – United Nations agencies supporting Palestinian refugees face an “existing” budget crisis and seek emergency funding of $ 120 million to continue education, health care and other essential services. The head of the agency said Friday.

“We continue to fight and chase money,” Philip Lazzarini told reporters.

“Financial conditions are an existential threat to organizations and can force organizations to cut back on services, so this should not be underestimated,” he added.

At stake is the institution’s ability to send 550,000 children to school in November and December, to provide medical care to thousands of people and to pay 28,000 employees.

The United Nations Relief Agency, known as UNRWA, provides education, medical care, food and other services to 700,000 Palestinians displaced or displaced during the 1948 war against the establishment of Israel. Created to provide.

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“Whether or not we can continue to operate in November and December,” Lazzarini added, adding that it was not clear to government officials.

He stressed the importance of the United States returning as a major donor to UNRWA this year after former President Donald Trump halted all funding in 2018. The Biden administration announced in April that it would provide a total of $ 235 million for projects in the West Bank. and Gaza. Similar to UNRWA.

However, Lazarini said US funding was offset by a drop in funding from other donors due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, without any information from potential donors in the Middle East.

He said the UK’s overseas aid budget had grown from 0.7% to 0.5% of GDP and Arab aid to UNRWA was $ 200 million in 2018. to approximately $ 89 million in 2019 and $ 37 million in 2020..

He said the uncertain funding for UNRWA has created concerns among Palestinian refugees that the “lifeline” provided by the agency could be undermined and the feeling of being abandoned by the international community. paddy field.

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To reverse this trend, Lazarini plans to co-sponsor a meeting in Brussels in mid-November between Sweden and Jordan, the main objective of which is to secure predictable multi-year funding from the agency. Says that.

UNRWA is seeking $ 800 million per year over three years for “basic” activities such as education, health care, social protection and safety nets, he said.

UNRWA also has separate emergency budgets to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza and Syria, he said. He said the budget for this year is around $ 500 million and it will be the same in 2022.

Currently there are 5.7 million Palestinian refugees, including children and grandchildren, but UNRWA only supports 550,000 in school and 2.8 million with health benefits, according to Lazarini.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Natalee Broderick

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