Germany to raise funds for Palestinian refugee agency
BERLIN: Germany will provide additional funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency and has appealed to other EU members to do the same following a cut in US aid, its foreign ministry said Friday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been struggling to balance its books since the United States announced in January it was cutting its annual funding by $300 million (260 million euros).
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a letter to European Union colleagues that the agency was a “key factor for stability” in the Middle East whose breakdown could entail an “uncontrollable chain reaction”.
Maas did not say how much money Germany would give in addition to 81 million euros it has already provided so far this year, but appealed to the EU to jointly support the agency to make up the deficit.
The foreign ministry confirmed the content of the letter.
Washington, which until last year was by far the biggest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), announced on Friday that it would no longer make any contributions to the “irredeemably flawed operation”.
The move by President Donald Trump’s administration was described as “cruel and irresponsible” by senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi.
“The Palestinian refugees are already the victims who have lost their homes, livelihoods and security as a result of the creation of the state of Israel,” she said.
UNRWA director Pierre Krahenbuhl said Thursday that the agency needs $200 million to continue its work until the end of this year.
The agency supports some five million registered Palestinian refugees and provides schooling for 526,000 children in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.
But UNRWA has warned it currently only has the funds to keep its 711 schools open for the next month.
Jordan’s foreign minister said Thursday that his country would host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in New York on September 27 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to keep the agency afloat.