UN Palestine Refugee Agency Faces “Worst” Financial Crisis in Its History

UN Palestine Refugee Agency Faces “Worst” Financial Crisis in Its History

In Gaza alone, over 1.3 million Palestinian refugees, who make up 70 percent of Gaza’s population, depend on UNRWA for food assistance. Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / AP

The United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) has warned of reducing humanitarian services it provides for the Palestinian refugees due to a lack of international funding.

Adnan Abu Hasna, the global agency's media advisor in Gaza, said in a press statement that if the agency does not receive funding, the services might be reduced in May.

"UNRWA faces an unprecedented financial crisis that it has not witnessed for several decades. The crisis is getting serious and may influence our programs and operations for Palestinian refugees in all our areas of operation," said Abu Hasna, according to Xinhua Net news site.

He said that so far, there were pledges to pay 299 million U.S. dollars as part of a total budget of more than 1 billion dollars that UNRWA needs during 2020.

"We have received so far 125-million-dollar donations out of 299 million," he said, adding that "there is no enough funding for our emergency programs in Gaza and the West Bank."

UNRWA provides humanitarian aid and support to around 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

The agency runs 709 schools that provide education to 532,000 students and 144 clinics. Millions of refugees receive food supplies and other services in the Agency’s fields of operations.

A recurrent financial crisis faced by UNRWA and a difficult funding environment clash with the continuously increasing needs of Palestine refugees, leading to serious challenges.

Last month, the Acting Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Christian Saunders, called for a minimum of US$ 1.4 billion to fund the Agency’s essential services and assistance, including life-saving humanitarian aid and priority projects, for 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the year 2020.

UNRWA said that in 2020, Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria will continue to face a range of daunting human development and protection challenges. Central to these pressures is the ongoing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Israeli blockade of Gaza, the continuing conflict in Syria, the political crisis in Lebanon and the growing needs in Jordan, all of which continue to dramatically impact the lives of Palestine refugees.

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