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UNRWA chief expects $211m deficit in 2019 budget

UNRWA beneficiaries seen during a visit by Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner-general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to Gaza on Janaury 22, 2018 [Middle East Monitor / Mohammad Asad]
Palestinian children seen at a UNRWA school in Gaza on 22 January 2018 [Middle East Monitor / Mohammad Asad]

Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Pierre Krahenbuhl said the UN agency is expected to end the year with a $211 million deficit.

Speaking on the sidelines of UNRWA’s biannual Advisory Commission meeting in the Dead Sea, Jordan, Krahenbuhl said the agency had managed to secure about $350 million of its $1.2 billion budget for 2019.

The agency has suffered a financial crisis since the United States, the UN agency’s largest single donor, suspended its assistance in 2018.

The US’ decision caused a financial shortfall of $446 million in the agency’s budget.

Krahenbuhl noted that there are positive indicators that donor countries would commit to their financial pledges.

READ: US calls to dissolve UNRWA, hand responsibilities to host countries

UNRWA’s pledging conference is scheduled to take place on 25 June in New York, Krahenbuhl said, but noted that the UN secretary-general would decide who will participate in the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain on 25-26 June.

According to the UN official, UNRWA needs support to continue to provide services to 700 schools which provide education to half a million Palestinian students and medical clinics which serve 8.5 million people per year.

The UN agency provides services to some five million Palestinian refugees, including 1.4 million living in 58 recognised refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

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