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UNRWA suffers $1bn deficit, warns of difficult decisions in April

March 14, 2020 at 12:51 pm

Matthias Schmale (C), Director of UNRWA Operations in Gaza speaks during a press conference held at Press House, a non-profit media organization based in Gaza, on 30 June 2019 in Gaza City, Gaza. [Ali Jadallah – Anadolu Agency]

Director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Operations in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, has announced that the international organisation suffers from a $1 billion deficit, warning that it might take difficult decisions in April, Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Schmale disclosed that the UNRWA is experiencing the “worst” financial crisis to date.

Schmale warned that his organisation might be forced to take difficult decisions at the end of April, relating to offering services should the crisis remained unresolved.

He noted that the annual budget needed to provide proper services in its operation areas is about $1.4 billion.

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“There are annual pledges from donor countries by $400 million,” he explained, noting that basic services could continue until the end of April and if all pledges were paid, the services could continue until May.

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

The organisation is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions, and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA programme budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall.