Palestinian Refugees face cuts to aid

Head of U.N. Agency for Palestinian Refugees Warns of Cuts

By Satoshi Sugiyama and Rick Gladstone  – NY Times – June 25, 2018

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations agency that helps the 5.4 million Palestinians classified as refugees could start running out of money next month because of a $250 million shortfall, largely because of American aid cuts, its top official said Monday.

The official, Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said the financial crisis was the worst the agency had faced since its creation in 1949, after the founding of the state of Israel.

The most immediate threat, he said, is funding for emergency food aid to indigent Palestinians in Gaza and Syria. A delay in the late-summer opening of schools run by the agency, which serve more than a half-million Palestinian students, also is possible, he said.

Mr. Krähenbühl spoke in an interview at his agency’s offices in New York ahead of an emergency fund-raising conference at the United Nations.

Most of the roughly $1.2 billion in annual spending by the agency, known by its acronym, Unrwa, comes from voluntary contributions by the 193 member states of the United Nations.

“While we have survived in a sense for the first half of the year with $250 million still missing,” Mr. Krähenbühl said, “we are going to run out of money for food distribution in Gaza, for psychosocial support in the Gaza Strip and also cash for work programs in the West Bank and others in a matter of weeks.”

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