UNRWA, Palestine Not Happy With US Decision
The United States has announced that it is ending all funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, triggering reactions from the Palestinian authorities and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
According to the US State Department, the organization is “irredeemably flawed” and the Trump administration has “carefully reviewed” the issue and “will not make additional contributions to UNRWA.
These statements from the White House drew reactions from the UN agency and Palestinians.
The UN refugee agency was not happy about the US decision and made a counter statement.
UNRWA released a statement late Friday rejecting “in the strongest possible terms” the Trump administration’s criticism of the agency and expressing “deep regret and disappointment.”
Similarly, the Palestinian government bashed the recent decision of the US government to end its decades of funding to the UN agency.
A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas later said the move was an “assault” against his people. He added that the decision was “a defiance of UN resolutions.”
The US has been the largest single donor to UNRWA, providing $368m (£284m) in 2016 and funding almost 30% of its operations in the region. The funding supports more than five million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, including providing health care, education and social services.
Palestinians Keep Bashing America
There are reasons why the Trump administration is critical of UNRWA. One, US President Donald Trump has complained about the Palestinians’ lack of respect and appreciation of what the US government has been doing to the region.
Instead receiving some acknowledgements for their contribution to the region, US is bashed continuously instead.
This has been also the statement of Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, who said has UNRWA exaggerated the number of Palestinian refugees.
“You’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America,” she said.
Aside from that, the US and Israel also disagree with UNRWA on which Palestinians are refugees with a right to return to the homes they fled following the 1948 war.
In January the Trump administration released $60 million in funds but withheld a further $65 million it had been due to provide.
US Contribution to UNRWA
The U.S. contributed a total of $249 million to UNRWA programs in 2011, including $145 million to the General Fund to support core programs in education, health, and social services, $75 million for UNRWA’s Emergency Appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, $15 million for reconstruction and relief activities in Lebanon’s Nahr al-Bared Camp (NA-her al BAR-ed), and $10.3 million to construct five new schools in Gaza.
In 2016, the U.S. donated $355 million to the UNRWA. The funding provided health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and it was set to make a similar contribution this year.
This year, the Trump administration released $60 million in funds but withheld a further $65 million it had been due to provide.