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UNRWA Warns of Reduction in Services over Lack of Funds

UNRWA Warns of Reduction in Services over Lack of Funds

Friday, 28 February, 2020 - 08:45
Children heading to school. UNRWA Photo
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat

Spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Adnan Abu Hasna has stated that the agency is suffering from an unprecedented financial crisis that might affect its programs and operations in various regions.

"UNRWA has faced an unprecedented financial crisis for several decades. The crisis is getting worse and may effect our programs and assistance provided to Palestinian refugees," said Abu Hasna.

He clarified that so far, there were pledges to pay USD299 million as part of a total budget of more than USD1.4 billion that UNRWA needs during 2020.

"We have received so far USD125 million donations out of USD299 million," Abu Hasna said, adding that "there is not enough funding for our emergency programs in Gaza and the West Bank."

UNRWA decided to reduce its running cost and will not employ more staff or promote employees.

The spokesman said in a press statement that if the agency does not receive any funding, the services might be reduced in May.

Christian Saunders, Acting UNRWA Commissioner-General, called for a minimum of USD1.4 billion to fund the agency's essential services and assistance, including life-saving humanitarian aid and priority projects, for 5.6 million registered Palestine refugees across the Middle East for the year 2020.

Of the required USD1.4 billion, the agency will use USD806 million for essential core services, which encompass education, health, infrastructure and camp improvement, relief and social services, protection and microfinance and contribute to the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda.

The presentation of the agency’s 2020 priorities and financial requirements comes in the wake of the recent extension by the United Nations General Assembly of the UNRWA mandate for another three years until June 2023.

The agency will be able to provide education to over half a million girls and boys in some 700 schools across the region, and enable 8.5 million patient visits in its health facilities, like it did in 2019.

UNRWA revealed that an additional amount of USD155 million is required to provide emergency humanitarian aid to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, and USD270 million is needed in support of the Syria Regional Crisis Emergency Appeal (Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Jordan).

An estimated USD170 million is required for priority projects, in particular, rehousing and reconstruction initiatives in response to conflicts in Syria and Gaza, as well as, initiatives designed to complete and strengthen program reforms and delivery.

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