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US cuts to UNRWA will hurt half a million Palestinian children

A little girl holding Palestinian flag standing in front of UNRWA logo
A little girl holding Palestinian flag standing in front of UNRWA logo

US funding cuts to UNRWA will hurt half a million Palestinian children, the relief agency’s spokesperson has warned.

Speaking to Voice of America via skype, Chris Gunness, said:

If UNRWA stopped its function half a million children will not receive education around the Middle East. Nine million people will not get their doctor consultation.

Gunness was responding to US threats to cut its support of the United Nations agency, which has been providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees since 1949. Over five million refugees rely on the agency for basic provisions including food, education and health care.

Israel and the US accuse UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.

Read: There is more to Trump’s Palestinian aid threat than meets the eye

Gunness disputed Trump’s claim saying that “the idea that a humanitarian organisation can perpetuate a refugee crises and push an agenda doesn’t really square with what is going on the ground where the UN agency delivers education to half a million children every day.”

Cuts to UNRWA are also likely to hit jobs in the occupied territory as well as the neighbouring countries where services are provided to Palestinian refugees by the agency. Nearly 20,000 teaching jobs are said to be at risk with teachers working in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and Gaza Strip may face layoffs.

President Trump intends to force Palestinians into negotiations with the Israelis. The White House believes that while reducing financial support for the UN Agency would not necessarily affect senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, it may force them to return to the negotiating table. Following Trump’s announcement to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel the PA withdrew from any US led negotiation saying that Washington had disqualified itself as an honest broker.

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