The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Monday that its budget deficit for 2018 has been reduced from $446m to $21m. Pierre Krähenbühl made the announcement during a conference in Jordan, at which he thanked donor countries including Japan, EU members, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE, as well as the agency’s Advisory Committee, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the Republic of Turkey.
Krähenbühl told the conference that this year was “very difficult” due to the US government’s decision to stop its donations to UNRWA. Apart from a relatively small amount of core funding from the UN’s main budget, UNRWA relies entirely on voluntary donations from UN member states.
According to the Jordanian newspaper Al-Sabeel, the Commissioner General noted that the budget deficit caused much “tension and suffering” for Palestinian refugees. An end to American support, he pointed out, had “repercussions” for the essential basic services provided by UNRWA to the refugees.
He called for those countries which have pledged support for the agency to “turn their pledges into funds in UNRWA’s bank accounts” in order to cover the remaining deficit.