The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Wednesday confirmed that the U. S. stopped funding to the agency this year, with some of the funding to be replaced by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Russia and Turkey.
On Tuesday, media reported citing sources that the administration of US President Donald Trump had decided to terminate its financial support for UNRWA, which amounted to some $350 million a year of the agency’s $1.2 billion annual budget.
“We have been given to understand that certainly for this year, we should not expect any U.S. funding and we have built zero US funding into our planning assumptions for next year,” UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness told Sputnik.
He added that depriving “5.4 million hungry, angry, under-educated people in the Middle East” of the funding hardly added to peace, but UNRWA had already started seeking non-U/S/ funding to replace the budget.
“We have robustly gone after non-US funding among traditional donors and emerging markets.
“We have been unprecedentedly successful. In just seven months we have raised 238 million dollars – 50 million from Saudi Arabia, 50 million from the UAE, but countries like Turkey and Russia have also been very generous. However, we still have a deficit for this year of $217 million,” the spokesperson said.
In January, the U.S. State Department announced that it had frozen $65 million out of the planned 125 million dollars for the UNRWA this year.
The decision came after Trump said that Palestinians lacked the willingness to hold peace talks with Israel and had no respect for the United States, despite the financial aid it provided. (Sputnil/NAN)