As the U.S. applies blackmail and punishment tactics against the Palestinian people by cutting aid, other countries have begun to step in to help, with Belgium announcing an immediate payment of US$23 million to a United Nations agency in charge of helping Palestinian refugees in Palestine and regional countries.
A day after the U.S. cut US$65 million of its annual aid for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, known as UNRWA, Alexander De Croo, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister, said UNRWA was “the last lifebuoy” for many Palestinians.
“I have a lot of respect for UNRWA’s work, which has to operate in the most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Living conditions in Gaza, Syria, the West bank and elsewhere in the region are particularly tough,” De Croo said in a statement published on the ministry’s website Wednesday.
“With the help of UNRWA half a million of Palestine children are able to go to school. This prevents them from falling prey to radicalization and extreme violence.”
The Belgian action came in response to a call from UNRWA's Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl urging donor nations and individuals to fill in the funding gap created by the U.S. cut of half of its aid to the agency.
“At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future. At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Krähenbühl said Tuesday shortly after the decision by the U.S. administration of Donald Trump.
UNRWA also warned it was undergoing the “most severe funding crisis in the history of the agency." The Belgian minister also confirmed that his government would dispatch the first annual aid payment immediately “considering the financial difficulties which UNRWA currently faces.” He added that the aid will be given over the next three years.
The recent developments comes as part of President Trump's push for blackmail and punishment tactics against the Palestinians as their leadership as well as most world nations rebuked his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israel's undivided capital, ignoring long-standing international accords and the Palestinian claim to the eastern part of the holy city.
Both Trump and Israel have accused UNRWA as well as the whole U.N. of being biased against Tel Aviv in favor of Palestine. But critics of such claims point to the fact that Israel’s Western allies are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council who have the power to veto any binding resolutions against Israeli occupation and human rights abuses.
Few weeks ago the U.S. president tweeted that his government gives the Palestinians "HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” and further suggesting that his country would cut aid to the Palestinian leadership and to U.N. agencies supporting it unless the Palestinians engage in pro-Israel peace talks backed by Washington and its oil-rich Arab states Saudi Arabia and UAE.
UNRWA was established in 1949 in order to provide assistance to Palestinian refugees, who in the aftermath of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War numbered about 700.000. Today, UNRWA offers to approximately 5 million Palestine refugees services such as education, health care and housing.