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UNRWA starts international fundraising campaign

Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinian men carry food aid given by UNRWA in Gaza City, Gaza on 15 January 2018 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

The head of the UN Refugees and Works Agency (UNRWA) has called on the international community to donate to the organisation in the aftermath of the US freezing $65 million worth of aid to the Palestinians, according to the Jerusalem Post.

"At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees in need of emergency food assistance and other support," UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a statement yesterday. "At stake is the access of refugees to primary healthcare, including prenatal care and other lifesaving services."

UNRWA which provides education, health and social welfare services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, is reportedly facing its worst funding crisis ever.

Last week UNRWA warned that US cuts will hurt half a million children; the UN agency runs 700 schools, where 525,000 boys and girls study, and operates 143 health clinics. Nearly 20,000 teaching jobs are said to be at risk, with UNRWA already having to layoff extra workers.

Read: Palestinian families protest US food aid cuts in Gaza

Earlier this week, the EU and Norway announced that they will also be convening an emergency meeting at the end of this month for donor groups providing aid to Palestinians, in attempt to control the situation.

The White House initially threatened the cuts in a bid to persuade senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah 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.

However, on Tuesday State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert did not mention Palestinians returning to negotiations as a condition for releasing the frozen funds.

Instead she said that the Trump Administration would like to see the agency enact reforms. Israel and the US accuse UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.

Read: Netanyahu: UN Palestinian refugee agency 'must disappear'

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