Saturday, December 15, 2018

UNRWAĺs pledge: funding shortfall to have devastating outcomes for Palestinian refugees


By Alicia Ramos Perez - June 27, 2018
TAGS:
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [UNRWA] [refugees] [US foreign policy]

On May 25, the General Commissioner for the UN Palestinian refugee agency, Pierre Krähenbühl, warned of the situation UNRWA is facing due to the “unprecedented economic situation” of $250 million shortfall.

The meeting, which was scheduled in December to pledge for help and impact their economic situation, had to be advanced to June.
 
The UN agency that helps 5.3 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan could start running out of money. The shortfall, mainly due to the American cut in donations, can have severe repercussions towards the Palestinian people.  
 
The US did not proportionate any further explanation towards the cut of funding. However, the General Commissioner Krähenbühl insisted that it was not due to the performance of UNRWA.
 
“We are now literally running out of money for our emergency work and we do not have guaranteed funding levels to open our school year in the month of August and beginning of September,” General Commissioner Krähenbühl stated.
 
Additionally, mental health support for students in the schools in Gaza might be impacted by emergency funding reduction.
 
“The most critical areas of risk are the ongoing provisions of food assistance for people in Gaza,” General Commissioner Krähenbühl added. Around 1 million out of 1.9 million people in Gaza receive food assistance from UNRWA.
 
When it comes to the West Bank, 100,000 Palestinians including Bedouins and refugees will be affected. Cash for work and other forms of support will be reduced.
 
The core focus of UNRWA is on education, as they run the school system for over half a million of refugees in Gaza. In addition, UNRWA funding is allocated to 140 basic medical clinics, micro-financing projects and protection work. Emergency operations carried out by UNRWA affect 1.7 million Palestinian refugees.
 
500 schools which support 526,000 students in West Bank, Gaza, Syria and Jordan do not have enough funding.
 
General Commissioner Krähenbühl confessed that UNRWA was facing a shortfall of $146 million in the beginning of 2018. When the single largest donor of UNRWA, United States, announced the funding cut of $300 million in January, UNRWA came across with a “dramatic deterioration of their funding situation.”
 
When addressed in a press conference about the long term economic situation of UNRWA and the possible funding for 2019, General Commissioner Krähenbühl replied; “we don’t have funding reserves so it is literally what we receive, we spend and especially this year where we are in a very tight and tense financial situation.”
 
However, to date, 25 countries have agreed to advance their funding for UNRWA. “Also, several countries have provided additional funding,” General Commissioner Krähenbühl said. These countries include United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium and Sweden’s multi-year support of $250 million over four years.
 
“We have 18 countries that provide UNRWA with multi-year funding. The more multi-year agreements we have, the more predictable our funding situation becomes then we can rely on certain levels over a three, four, five-year period,” Krähenbühl said.
 
General Commissioner Krähenbühl encouraged other states to join in the multi-year agreements which would guarantee stability for UNRWA.

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