The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees said that the emergency aid for a million Palestinian in the Gaza Strip might run out in June, if the agency could not collect $200 million, after the United States cut its funding.
UNRWA Commissioner Pierre Krähenbühl said to Reuters: “Throughout the Middle East, US President Donald Trump has withheld funding of $305 million , much more than $65 million, which he said that he would withhold in January.”
He said in Conference of international donors for Syria in Brussels, ” We really have a very fragile society in Gaza.” He added, “If we are not suddenly certain about the amount of food aid provided by the United Nations to one million people, you can imagine the impact this might cause . I do not give any justification for any connection to the possibility of unrest.”
He pointed out, according to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, that the Gulf States, Norway, and Canada had provided $200 million to help fund the UNRWA budget that reaches to $465 million in 2018. The United States, which was the agency’s largest contributor, for a very long time, provided only $60 million of $365 million it promised to provide. This creates a deficit of more than $200 million in financing the purchase of rice, flour, and sugar and continuing to fund schools in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
The UNRWA’s demand for financial aid is facing difficulties because of other requests for crises in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Congo and elsewhere.
Krähenbühl warned of the increasing unrest in Gaza that happens partly because of the worst collapse of the economy after an Israeli-led blockade for nearly 10 years and internal divisions in Gaza.
He also said that “the inability to fund UNRWA makes a lack of sufficient funds to reopen schools in August and September, at the beginning of the new school year. This is the biggest funding crisis we have ever faced.”
It is noteworthy that Trump cut funding for UNRWA in January, after doubting the value of such funding, and the State Department said that UNRWA needed unspecified reforms.
Many Western diplomats saw Trump’s move as a reaction to a condemnation across the Middle East of his decision on the 6th of December, 2017, to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I implemented a cut in funds, and I am trying to find new donors from the private sector, who may be from the Gulf States or donations to give solidarity with the Palestinians during the month of Ramadan,” said Krähenbühl.
After donors such as Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates agreed to contribute, Krähenbühl said he was now seeking help from Germany, France, Sweden and Britain and would travel to Berlin later this week. He considered these aids as a simple help that the future unrest would not increase.