UN Palestinian refugee agency faces ‘existential threat’ amid lack of funds

Although donors committed an extra $38 million this year, UNRWA said a funding shortage posed a threat to the agency that provides social welfare to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, has fallen well short of its target to plug a $100-million gap this year and secure full long-term funding despite fresh pledges from donors.

UNRWA warned it was facing an “existential” threat as it urged the international community to commit to more stable financing at a conference in Brussels on Tuesday, insisting it needs to find $800 million a year going forward.

“Our operation require a minimum of $800 million a year. It is not possible to operate with less than that,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said.

Lazzarini said that financing gaps posed a threat of a “truly existential nature” to the agency that provides social welfare to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

“I had to raise the alarm because if we do not find real solution now and for the future, the institution is on the edge of a collapse,” Lazzarini explained.

“We are struggling today already to feed our stock of medicine and to pay bills and our staff has to deal with frozen benefits and delayed salaries.”

Future donations still fall short

A statement said donors committed an extra $38 million for this year, leaving the agency still $60 million short.

“So we are making progress. But we still need support to cover all services and salaries for November and December,” Lazzarini explained.

Going forward, the agency said donors had vowed $614 million in new or renewed multi-year agreements with just 40 percent of the agency’s core budget covered for next year.

UNRWA, which has a staff of 28,000, provides assistance to more than five million Palestinians registered with it in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon.

Source: TRT


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