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23:55, 31 August 2018

US ends aid to Palestinian refugee agency Unrwa

US ends aid to Palestinian refugee agency Unrwa

The United States is ending all funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, the US state division says.

It described the organisation, the United Nations Relief and Performs Agency (Unrwa), as “irredeemably flawed”.

The US administration has “very carefully reviewed” the issue and “will not make extra contributions to Unrwa,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert mentioned.

In January, the US announced it would withhold much more than half of a tranche of funding for the agency.

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas responded to the US choice on Friday, describing it as a “flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of UN resolutions”.

“Such a punishment will not succeed to modify the reality that the United States no longer has a function in the region and that it is not a portion of the solution,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told Reuters news agency.

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What is Unrwa?

Unrwa was originally set up to take care of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

The agency currently supports more than five million people across the Middle East, such as offering overall health care, education and social solutions.

The US has been the largest single donor to Unrwa, providing $368m (&pound284m) in 2016 and funding almost 30% of its operations in the area.

The Trump administration had pledged $60m to Unrwa in January, but withheld another $65m pending a evaluation. That remaining payment of $65m is now anticipated to be cancelled.

Earlier on Friday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said his country would enhance its contributions to the agency simply because its funding crisis was fuelling uncertainty.

“The loss of this organisation could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction,” Mr Maas said.

  • Palestinian territories profile

In January, Unrwa launched a international appeal to fill the gap in its price range.

Some in Israel also raised issues at the time that weakening Unrwa could trigger regional instability and generate a lot more extremism in the region.

What is the US stance?

In January, US President Donald Trump indicated a adjust in method when he tweeted that the US received “no appreciation or respect” for the huge sums of aid it provided to the area.

That same month, Mr Trump also threatened to reduce aid to the Palestinians more than what he named their unwillingness to negotiate with Israel.

Ms Nauert told reporters at the time that the Trump administration had committed the $60m as a voluntary contribution for 2018 so that Unrwa did not run out of funds, and schools and well being care facilities would not have to close.

She added that the US would “like to see some revisions created in how Unrwa operates”, to guarantee that the funds was “best spent” so that individuals got the solutions they needed.

Published at Fri, 31 Aug 2018 21:39:10 +0000

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