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Despite its current financial difficulties, the UNRWA will continue all services and employment programs for over 5.6 million Palestinians.
The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday announced that his country will stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). This decision was justified on the grounds that this multilateral organization is an obstacle to peace in the region.
“We suspended funding to UNRWA, which is riddled with waste, fraud & concerns of support to terrorism. UNRWA is not a refugee agency; it’s estimated <200,000 Arabs displaced in 1948 are still alive and most others are not refugees by any rational criteria,” Pompeo tweeted.
“UNRWA is a hurdle to peace. America supports peace and Palestinian human rights; UNRWA supports neither. It's time to end UNRWA's mandate,” he added.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, however, announced that his organization will hold contacts with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden's office on resuming the U.S. financial support to the Palestinian refugees.
"We are optimistic about the resumption of relations with the new U.S. administration," he said at a press conference in Gaza, adding that the agency looks forward to the U.S. financial allocations to restore its previous status during the next stage.
Refugees return to their village after surrendering in the war against Israel. The conflict forced 85 percent of the Palestinian population living in what became Israel to leave their homes. Palestine, 1948. #Historypic.twitter.com/vW3TwhPpBd
The UNRWA is passing through a severe financial crisis, which began when President Donald Trump cut US$360 million from the UN agency in early 2018, which represented 30 percent of UNRWA's budget.
“The U.S. was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA's costs that we had assumed for many years… UNRWA's endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in August 2018.
Despite current financial difficulties, Lazzarini ratified that the UNRWA will continue all services and employment programs for over 5.6 million Palestinian refugees.