Published: Sat, September 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Palestinians condemn US ending funding for UN refugee agency

Palestinians condemn US ending funding for UN refugee agency

Multiple outlets reported on Thursday that the Trump administration plans to suspend most aid to a long-running United Nations program that supports Palestinian refugees, the latest in its efforts to exert leverage over Palestinian leadership on key elements of a Middle East peace process. Palestinian officials have countered that the Trump administration has come up with "nothing of substance" in trying to end the decades-old conflict despite the United States president's stated confidence of securing what he calls "the ultimate deal".

"The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation", State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert said in a statement.

The US is stopping its funding for a United Nations organisation that helps Palestinian refugees, calling it an "irredeemably flawed operation".

Nauert said the agency's "endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years".

The U.S. will hold back $290 million of the $350 million it usually provides to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which was founded in 1949, a year after Israel's birth.

Unrwa has expressed "deep regret and disappointment" at the USA move.

More than 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their land in the events leading to the establishment of the state of Israel.

America's decision comes as President Donald Trump and his Middle East advisers, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, are set to come up with a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians.

But under Trump, Washington has taken a number of actions that have alienated the Palestinians, including the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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The Palestinians fear the putting pressure on host countries like Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to absorb their refugee populations and eliminate the issue from future peace negotiations.

Over time, the number bloomed to an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region, who had an aid agency devoted exclusively to them while the rest of the world's refugees had to depend on the general UNHCR refugee agency.

"Now the president's administration has gone a step further, cutting off even more funding by withholding a significant sum of money - roughly $200 million - that had been previously earmarked to go to the PA", the organization said.

"Such a punishment will not succeed to change the fact that the United States no longer has a role in the region and that it is not a part of the solution".

The Times of Israel reported that "Jordan said Thursday it would host a fundraiser at the United Nations headquarters in NY next month to keep UNRWA afloat".

Palestinian officials have also condemned the move.

Today, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region.

"This decision, which violates all resolutions of worldwide legitimacy, requires the United Nations to take a firm stand against the US decision and to take appropriate decisions", he said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov following their meeting in Moscow, May 10, 2018.

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