23, Feb 2018 | CJP Team
Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRW), the main UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees, told the Guardian that the agency is confronted with its worst-ever funding shortage. The UNRWA lacks nearly one-third of its budget, mostly due to the move by US President Donald Trump’s administration to withhold funding. According to Krähenbühl, funds to supply food aid to one million people in Gaza and 400,000 people in Syria will be depleted within weeks. The US said it would be reducing funding to the UNRWA after the UN General Assembly voted to reject Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Krähenbühl said that last year, the US gave $346 million, but has announced only $60 million this year. “I have just come from the Munich security conference. At every seminar, people were asking the same question: about security and how we combat radicalisation. If you want to ask us how to avoid radicalising Palestinian youth, then it is not by cutting $300m in our funding,” Krähenbühl said. The UNRWA also, crucially, helps provide education to 47,000 Palestinian refugee children living in Syria. The agency was founded in 1949 to supply short-term aid to 750,000 Palestinians who were displaced because the conflict sparked by the institution of the Israeli state. This number has now grown to 5.3 million.