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UNRWA deficit drops from $167m to $77m

December 19, 2019 at 11:43 am

Palestinians gather at United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) building during a demonstration demanding the extension of term of office of UNRWA, on 17 September 2019 in Gaza City, Gaza. [Mustafa Hassona – Anadolu Agency]

After generous donations were made over the last three weeks, UNRWA’s deficit reduced from $167 million to $77 million, the organisation’s statement said.

The UN refuge agency (UNRWA) secured $167 million in order to continue its services, including paying the salaries of its employees until the end of the year, the statement said.

This is the least amount needed, it explained, adding that refugee services need greater funding.

“Thanks to the intensified efforts made during the past three weeks, the deficit was reduced after donations had been made by more than 20 countries and partners,” the statement said.

“The sum includes amounts transferred from countries that froze their donations for 2019 at the instigation of an investigation supervised by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services,” the statement added.

In November, UNRWA’s Acting Commissioner General Christian Saunders said: “We currently and immediately need a total of $167m to provide the bare minimum of our services, without which we cannot survive.”

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Saunders added that the cumulative fiscal deficit of the agency amounts to $322 million, which it needs in order to operate its programmes and activities.

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Last year, the US State Department said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA.

The US had been UNRWA’s largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually — roughly a quarter of the agency’s overall budget.

This came a month after reports emerged of a secret American report stated that there are only 40,000 Palestinian refugees, noting they are the Palestinians who left their home land in 1948 and remain alive today and not their descendants.

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is reported to have tried to pressure Jordan to strip more than two million Palestinians of refugee status in a move that aims to end the work of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

UNRWA's lifeline is decreasing due to the cuts made by the Trump administration [AlArabi21News/Twitter]

UNRWA’s lifeline is decreasing due to the cuts made by the Trump administration – Cartoon [AlArabi21News/Twitter]