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UN faces crisis since Trump cut aid

Sherouk Zakaria/Dubai
Filed on March 5, 2018 | Last updated on March 5, 2018 at 09.21 pm
The UN Refugee Agency pavilion at the Dihad conference and exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre. — Photo by Juidin Bernarrd
The UN Refugee Agency pavilion at the Dihad conference and exhibition at Dubai World Trade Centre. - Photo by Juidin Bernarrd

The US has been the largest donor - responsible for nearly a third of the budget.

Humanitarian agencies are facing "unprecedented financial crisis" after the US recently cut its foreign aid, a United Nations representative said.

Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said since US President Donald Trump dramatically reduced contributions to Palestine by $300 million, the agency has been dealing with "the most severe crisis" ever faced. With the remaining funds that will cover Palestinian refugees until May, Krähenbühl said the need for global mobilisation and action in search for a solution is now more crucial than ever. "If 525,000 students no longer have access to education, three million patients don't have access to healthcare and 1.7 million don't receive emergency assistance, we will see catastrophic rise in insecurity," he said during his speech at the  Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (Dihad).

"Not having UNRWA students in schools violates fundamental right and becomes a matter of national security." Earlier in January, Trump had threatened to cut millions in contributions to force Palestinian national authorities into coming to the negotiating table to discuss a peace deal with Israel.

The US has been the largest donor - responsible for nearly a third of the budget - to UNRWA, which works to help Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, providing food, health-related, and education aid.

Krähenbühl called for an increased Arab contribution towards the crisis, stating that the UN will be attending the ministerial conference in Rome later this month to address the crisis. A global campaign titled "dignity is priceless" will also accept Zakat during Ramadan. "Investing in education goes beyond dependency and lack of horizon that the conflict creates. Education allows you to look at Palestinian refugee youth as actors of their own destiny," he said.

For now, UNRWA schools and clinics will remain open to Palestinian refugees. Krähenbühl said he hopes the global communities' actions will match the courage shown by UNRWA students.

sherouk@khaleejtimes.com  


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