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Funding cuts leave UNRWA unable to pay staff salaries

December 15, 2020 at 9:45 am

Palestinians in Gaza protest against UNRWA’s decision to terminate the temporary staff on 10 June 2020 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will not be able to pay the salaries of its staff if donors do not send enough money this month, the UNRWA Director of Communications Sami Mshasha said yesterday.

Speaking to Wafa news agency, Mshasha said that UNRWA is facing difficulties raising money to pay the December salaries that amount to $40 million.

“There is not enough money in the banks to pay full salaries for this month,” he said, explaining that “the expected salary payment will depend on donor pledges, which usually are done on the 23rd and 24th of each month.”

Mshasha said: “The most difficult thing is that we do not know until now how much we would be able to pay,” adding that “there is a deficit in the general budget, which includes salaries and basic services, by about $70 million.”

“The emergency budget deficit is much greater, as we have received only 12 per cent of the emergency budget in Syria, and 50 per cent in Palestine, while we received only 40 per cent of the COVID-19 budget.”

READ: Former Israeli ambassador warns Biden not to resume funding for UNRWA

Last month, UNRWA said it might not be able to pay the full salaries of its staff for November causing an uproar among staff in its five areas of operation, that include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It did, however, receive enough donations at the last minute.

Representatives of countries hosting Palestine refugees met at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo yesterday in preparation for a donor conference scheduled for early next year.

They agreed that Israel’s annexation of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights “is null and void and has no legal standing.”