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UNRWA ‘immediately needs $167 million to provide bare minimum of services’ — official

Agency announces $322m cumulative deficit, calls for donor support

By JT - Nov 25,2019 - Last updated at Nov 25,2019

A view of Jerash camp, which hosts more than 29,000 registered Palestine refugees. Four UNRWA schools run on double shifts and one school runs on a single shift in the camp, according to UNRWA (Photo courtesy of UNRWA)

AMMAN — UNRWA Acting Commissioner General Christian Saunders said on Monday that the cumulative fiscal deficit of the agency amounts to $322 million, which it needs in order to operate its programmes and activities.

“We currently and immediately need a total of $167 million to provide the bare minimum of our services, without which we cannot survive,” Saunders added on the sidelines of UNRWA’s advisory committee opening at the Dead Sea, as reported by the Jordan News Agency, Petra.

He noted that UNRWA is currently facing the “worst financial crisis” it has witnessed since its inception. 

While he called on donor countries to fulfill their commitments by donating to UNRWA, Saunders expressed his appreciation for the role Jordan plays in defending the agency and urging the international community to provide financial support.

Saunders noted that donor countries are currently being approached to pay financial dues in order to enable the agency to maintain its services for its 5.5 million Palestinian refugee beneficiaries, Petra reported.

An investigation concerning UNRWA’s methods is expected to conclude soon, the acting commissioner said, adding that “the results of the investigation have proved there to be no financial corruption, which incentivises donor countries to commit to providing donations”. He stressed that the agency utilises donations with “professionalism and responsibility”. 

“The increase of UNRWA teachers in Jordan came as a result of equating their salaries to those of government employees and teachers,” Saunders said, noting that the agency’s employees have not seen an increase in salaries since 2012. 

The acting commissioner also reviewed the progress seen in the agency’s services, noting that it requires $80 million monthly to survive. 

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