The United Nations has received pledges for $100 million in aid for “Palestinians” from the likes of Canada, Turkey, Switzerland and Norway.
The pledges still don’t bridge the full $350 million gap created by President Donald Trump’s announced cuts to UNRWA.
On top of that: These are just pledges. The actual cash hasn’t yet exchanged hands.
Ynet News has more:
The United Nations received pledges Thursday of nearly $100 million in new funding for the UN relief agency for Palestinians after the US slashed its aid, but it is still facing a nearly $350 million shortfall this year.
UN officials said the countries providing the new financing included Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said “an important first step was reached” at an emergency donor conference in Rome with the new pledges. But he said “a long way is in front of us” to fully fund the agency, which went into the conference facing a $446 million gap in financing this year—the worst funding crisis in its 68-year history.
“If UNRWA would not exist, if these services were not provided, the security of region would be severely undermined,” Guterres told reporters at the conference’s conclusion. “Now it is very clear, it is absolutely essential, that the extraordinary unanimity in political support to UNRWA and its activities translates itself into cash.”
The agency, the oldest and largest UN relief program in the Middle East, provides health care, education and social services to an estimated 5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.
Israel complains that the organization grants Palestinian refugees special status by counting descendants of Palestinians who were either forced to leave or fled during the 1948 War of Independence.
By using this unique categorization which no other refugee in the world is afforded, Israel says that UNRWA is responsible for exacerbating, rather than solving, the problem.
The body’s edcuational facilities have also been used in the past for Hamas terror purposes.
Last October, it was reported that UNRWA discovered a Hamas attack tunnel underneath one of its schools in Gaza.
But the matter was not a focus for Guterres and reforms that US President Donald Trump had called for were also neglected. Guterres told the conference that cutting sanitation, health care and medical services in already poverty-wracked and conflict-ridden areas “would have severe impact—a cascade of problems that could push the suffering in disastrous and unpredictable directions.”
The Trump administration announced in January it was slashing $65 million this year. But the agency said the actual cut was around $300 million because the US had led the agency to believe it would provide $365 million in 2018.
The US had been UNWRA’s largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget. In announcing the cuts in January, the US State Department said it wanted reforms at the agency, which Israel has strongly criticized.
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