News ID: 211759
Published: 0327 GMT March 16, 2018

Summit on UNRWA funding gets $100m in aid pledges

Summit on UNRWA funding gets $100m in aid pledges

A conference in Rome aimed at funding the UN agency for Palestinian refugees gathered pledges of $100 million in funding, according to UN officials.

The summit, co-organized by JordanSweden, and Egypt in the Italian capital, convened on Thursday at the headquarters of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), where foreign ministers from the three countries discussed the financial crisis confronting the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), aljazeera.com reported.

More than 90 countries were invited to participate in the Rome conference, which was attended by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and European Union's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Also in attendance was Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah who called for increasing support and warned of the "multiple risks that this financial crisis will have for Palestinian refugees", their host countries, and the region's stability.

Among the pledging countries are Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France. Their combined commitment fell $350m short of the amount required by UNRWA.

UNRWA is one of the region's oldest relief agencies, but is currently facing an unprecedented financial crisis, according to Guterres, after US Department of State decided to withhold $65 million out of a $125 million aid package.

The move came after US President Donald Trump threatened on January 3 to cut aid to the agency, which serves more than five million people.

Earlier on Thursday, Guterres said in a Twitter post that supporting UNRWA is an "investment in peace".

Christopher Gunness, senior spokesperson for UNRWA, said they had started with a 2018 budget deficit of $446 million and although pledges for funding were made, there is "work to do on the funding".

According to Gunness, existing funds will only allow the agency to carry on with operations until summertime, and so a "sustainable financial footing" is required.

For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has been the lifeline to the more than five million registered Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

It offers support in food supply, access to education, health care, social services and employment.

 

   
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