USA aid funding for Palestinians thrown into doubt by $65m payment 'freeze'

USA aid funding for Palestinians thrown into doubt by $65m payment 'freeze'

USA aid funding for Palestinians thrown into doubt by $65m payment 'freeze'

The Trump administration has cut tens of millions of dollars in money for Palestinian refugees, demanding that the United Nations agency responsible for the programs undertake a "fundamental re-examination", the State Department said. A spokesperson from the US State Department, Heather Nauert said that the move to withhold aid to Palestine was never aimed to be a punishment to anyone.

"We hope that the United States administration and Congress can cooperate in reversing this politically motivated cut in aid before its effects ripple through the Middle East", said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council.

So the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, went ahead and bought millions of dollars worth of rice, lentils, flour, and other vital staples.

While US officials did not link the decision to Trump's tweet, they made a point often advanced by him, saying the US had been UNRWA's single largest donor for decades.

UNRWA which provides education, health and social welfare services to Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, is reportedly facing its worst funding crisis ever.

The agency is now confronted with a massive unpaid bill at a time when it is facing huge cuts from the Trump administration for its education and health care programs and uncertainty over further US giving. We also hope that this decision is not part of an American political framework to impose positions on the Palestinians, which will never work.

"First of all, UNRWA is not a Palestinian institution, it is a United Nations institution", he said at a United Nations press conference Tuesday.

Nauert said other countries should shoulder more of the costs for UNRWA.

"At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees in need of emergency food assistance and other support", UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a statement yesterday.

Washington announced on Tuesday it would provide $60 million to the UNRWA while keeping back a further $65 million for now. If those countries also suddenly face the burden of having to deal with under- or unfunded schools, medical clinics and other services, "this will create a very, very serious problem", Guterres said, "and we'll do everything we can to avoid this situation to occur".

Trump said in a Twitter post on January 2 that the United States gives the Palestinians hundreds of millions of dollars a year, "but get no appreciation or respect".

"Children's access to basic humanitarian services is not a bargaining chip but a U.S. and worldwide obligation", Palestinian Ambassador to the U.S. Husam Zomlot (who is a Palestinian refugee from Al-Shabura camp in southern Gaza) said in a statement released today from Washington DC. Israel and the USA accuse UNRWA of perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.

"I call on member states of the United Nations to take a stand & demonstrate to Palestine Refugees that their rights & future matter", he wrote, announcing the global fundraising appeal.

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