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PA Calls for Supporting UNRWA to Protect Refugees From Coronavirus

PA Calls for Supporting UNRWA to Protect Refugees From Coronavirus

Thursday, 26 March, 2020 - 09:30
Palestinian children filling their containers with drinking water from public taps in a camp in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in summer 2019(AFP)
Ramallah - Asharq Al-Awsat

A Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official has called on donor countries to respond to the latest appeal by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) saying it urgently needs $14 million to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak over an initial three-month period.

Member of PLO’s Executive Committee Ahmed Abu Houli said the aid would help facing the new coronavirus in refugee camps by taking precautionary measures.

Inhabited by nearly 6.2 million Palestinian refugees, the camps are among the most densely-populated and impoverished areas, Abu Houli said in a statement on Wednesday.

He praised the European Union’s allocation of 82 million euros to the UN agency, noting that this donation will help it to carry on with its programs and services.

The Palestinian official urged donor countries to fulfill their annual financial pledges to UNRWA to provide education, health, social relief, and emergency services to Palestinian refugees, in accordance with the mandate granted to it by UN Resolution 302.

The NGO suffers from an initial deficit worth one billion dollars of its 2020 budget, which would force it to reduce its services or suspend some of its programs, the official said.

UNRWA has been facing mounting criticism from popular committees in the camps and accusations of failing to take measures to face the spread of the ongoing pandemic and provide aid to camp residents.

It went under a major financial crisis since the United States decided to cut aid allocated to it as part of US-Israeli efforts to end its work.

All UNRWA schools and other educational institutions are temporarily closed. However, all 144 UNRWA clinics remain fully operational and continue to provide essential primary health services, which today are more crucial than ever, to contain and address the spread of the new coronavirus.

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