Palestinian PM urges int’l community to uphold financial promises to UNRWA

Palestinian PM urges int’l community to uphold financial promises to UNRWA

RAMALLAH, June 20 (Xinhua) — Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah urged on Wednesday the international community to uphold financial promises to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) amid its financial crisis.

Hamdallah said in a press statement following his meeting with UNRWA General Commissioner Pierre Krahenbuhl in Ramallah that some parties are trying to undermine the operations of UNRWA, warning against “harming the legitimate rights of the Palestinian refugees safeguarded by the international law.”

The PM highlighted the importance of UNRWA’s role and its protection of the rights of Palestinian refugees until a just resolution for their cause is reached.

UNRWA announced following its advisory commission meeting in Amman Tuesday that it suffers a shortage of 250 million U.S. dollars until the end of 2018.

The UNRWA has over 700 schools serving almost 525,000 children and offers healthcare to some 3.5 million refugees through a network of 150 clinics. In addition, the agency’s food and cash assistance program offers some 1.7 million dollars to extremely vulnerable refugees.

The UNRWA also mentioned in a statement the severity of the risks ahead “with more than 250 million dollars in further support required to preserve UNRWA’s core and emergency assistance in the second half of the year.”

Access to schooling for a generation of Palestinian refugee youth is at stake, the UNRWA said, as well as access to essential health care in and around 58 refugee camps and emergency assistance to millions of insecure refugees in an unstable region.

The statement said Krahenbuhl reiterated his urgent call for all partners “to stay on a successful collective path for the sake of the Palestine refugee community” in light of an upcoming pledging conference for UNRWA in New York on June 25.

He insisted on the need to respect the hope and dignity of Palestine refugees, added the statement.

In the beginning of the year, the United States cut down its contribution to UNRWA from 125 million dollars to 65 million dollars.

Palestinian officials said the U.S. move to reduce UNRWA funds is in line with the new policy of U.S. President Donald Trump to ignore the final issues of the peace process.

The officials added that the United States tries to remove the issues of Jerusalem and the refugees “off the table” as Trump said in a tweet after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Dec. 6, 2017.

UNRWA serves 5.3 million Palestinian refugees throughout the region.

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