The Department of Refugee Affairs of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) warned on Wednesday, Dec. 2 of a "humanitarian catastrophe" that could befall the Palestinian refugee camps in light of the severe financial crisis faced by the UN agency for refugees, UNRWA, "due to the shortage of financial assistance from donor countries, as well as the failure of many funding countries to meet their financial obligations needed to cover the shortfall experienced by UNRWA after the global financial crisis."
Zakareya Al-Agha, a member of the PLO's Executive Committee and PLO's Refugees' Commissioner, said, "The Agency is experiencing a fiscal deficit of about $140 million from the total regular budget for the current year (2009)."
"The lack of response from the international community and donor countries, to the appeals of UNRWA's Commissioner General to meet the fiscal deficit, will impact negatively on the nature of the services provided by UNRWA for Palestine refugees, and therefore their lives within the camps," he added.
In a written press statement, he warned that the worsening of the financial crisis, and that the drop of UNRWA's budget to zero in the beginning of the new year, are dangerous indicators of the seriousness of the UNRWA's situation, given that it is an international institution that looks after 4.7 million Palestinian refugees, who depend primarily on the services that it provides. He stressed that "this dangerous situation would result in a humanitarian disaster inside the Palestinian refugee camps; if UNRWA resorts to curtailing the services provided to refugees or suspends some programs."