UNRWA says facing its worst financial crisis

DEAD SEA, Jordan 

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, is facing the worst financial crisis in its history, the agency’s officer-in-charge said Monday.

Speaking at a press conference in the Dead Sea, Jordan, Christian Saunders said the UN agency has a budget deficit of $332 million.

“We need $176 million now to provide our minimum services,” he said.

“We need $80 million monthly to continue to provide our services,” Saunders said. “Next month, we will need additional $40 million to provide food and medicines,” he said.

Saunders said UNRWA has asked donors to fulfill their financial obligations to help the agency provide its services to the Palestinian refugees.

Established in 1949, UNRWA delivers critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

In 2018, the U.S. cut off funding to UNRWA, significantly diminishing its resources.

Prior to the U.S. move, Washington was the largest donor to UNRWA, providing about $350 million annually, equivalent to about one quarter of the agency’s annual budget.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara
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