Global community pledges $100M to UNRWA

Global community pledges $100M to UNRWA

Kerry Wise
March 16, 2018

The conference saw additional pledges to UNRWA of approximately US$ 100 million by numerous donors as part of an global effort to address the Agency's funding shortfall, and to sustain its "vital" services in an unstable region.

United Nations officials said the countries providing the new financing included Turkey, Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France.

For his part, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said pressure on Palestinian refugees could lead to "an explosion" and negative consequences that affect their lives and their future.

"If UNRWA would not exist, if these services were not provided, the security of region would be severely undermined", Guterres told reporters.

"Today, we stress the need to continue working to ensure effectiveness of the agency and centrality of reaching long-term financial planning", he said, and added "this conference is the beginning of an ongoing process of support that will enable UNRWA to provide vital services".

This comes after the U.S. Trump administration in January cut tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees. The extraordinary ministerial conference in the Italian capital was looking to secure funding from donors to make up UNWRA's current $446 million shortfall.

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Guterres told the conference that cutting sanitation, health care and medical services in already poverty-wracked and conflict-ridden areas "would have severe impact - a cascade of problems that could push the suffering in disastrous and unpredictable directions".

The US had been UNWRA's largest donor, supplying almost 30 percent of its budget.

"Today's announcement of new and exceptional emergency funding will provide humanitarian assistance to help meet the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza".

The agency's commissioner-general, Pierre Krahenbehl, said in a Twitter post "Palestine Refugees deserve recognition of their rights & stable delivery of UNRWA services".

"We are here because this is an organisation that is a lifeline for millions of Palestinian refugees". Turkey ranks first if one takes into account national incomes.