After $65M U.S. aid cut, UNRWA launches global fundraising effort

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has launched an international fundraising campaign to make up for millions in lost aid that was to come from the United States.

Food supplies from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are delivered in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, on Jan. 14. Wednesday, UNRWA launched an international fundraising campaign to make up for millions in lost aid. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
Food supplies from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency are delivered in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza, on Jan. 14. Wednesday, UNRWA launched an international fundraising campaign to make up for millions in lost aid. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency on Wednesday sent a plea to other members of the world body to take a stand and join the UNRWA in showing Palestine refugees “their rights and future matter.”

The UNRWA statement also called on host countries and “people of good will in every corner of the globe” to respond to this crisis.

The U.S. State Department on Tuesday said it will withhold more than half of its funding to the UNRWA this year, sending $65 million instead of its previously planned $125 million.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the other half of the funding is being held due to concerns about how the UNRWA is managed. The additional funding will be dependent on changes made at the agency, she said.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley previously said the United States would freeze UNRWA funding unless Palestinians returned to negotiations with Israel after President Donald Trump moved to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl said the reduced funding will have a negative impact on about 525,000 children in UNRWA schools, as well as emergency food assistance and healthcare to millions of Palestine refugees.

“At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance … At stake is the access of refugees to primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community,” Krähenbühl said.

The statement said the reduced contribution also will impact regional security “at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalization.”

In the past, the United States contributed $364 million annually in two installments to the agency, which provides healthcare and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and neighboring countries.

By Susan McFarland