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Future of Palestinian children at stake after US reduced aid — UNRWA chief

By JT - Jan 17,2018 - Last updated at Jan 17,2018

AMMAN — UNRWA’s Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl has said that the US decision to slash its aid to the agency puts at stake the access of 525,000 Palestinian boys and girls to 700 UNRWA schools, and their future. 

“At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At stake is the access of refugees to primary healthcare, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services.  At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community,” Krahenbuhl said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

“The US government has announced a contribution of $60 million, in support of our efforts to keep our schools open, health clinics running, and emergency food and cash distribution systems functioning for some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees. While important, this funding is dramatically below past levels. 

“The total US contribution in 2017 was above $350 million.”

He noted that the decision is a serious turn and change in Washington’s policy, noting that since UNRWA began its operations in May 1950, “every US administration — from President Truman onwards — has stood with and provided strong, generous and committed support to our Agency”.

The reduced contribution also impacts regional security at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalisation, the UNRWA chief said. 

Krahenbuhl called on UN member states “to take a stand and join UNRWA in saying to Palestine refugees that their rights and future matter”, while he called  on host countries and donors to “rally in support and join UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives to ensure Palestine refugee students continue to access education in our schools and the dignity of Palestine refugee children and their families is preserved through all our services”.

 

The agency’s chief also called on “people of good will in every corner of the globe where solidarity and partnerships exist for Palestine refugees to join us in responding to this crisis and #FundUNRWA to ensure that Palestine refugee girls and boys can stand strong”, noting that in the next few days a global fundraising campaign will be launched to capture the large-scale commitment to keeping UNRWA schools and clinics open throughout 2018 and beyond”.

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