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Donors pledge $ 160 million and Palestinian refugees need more

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The Associated Press

Associated Press

Edith M. Rederer

United Nations (AP) — Donors have promised about $ 160 million to UN agencies to support Palestinian refugees, Still needs more than $ 100 million to help The agency's chief educates more than 500,000 children, provides primary care to nearly 2 million people, and urgently addresses the poorest refugees on Friday. He said he would provide cash assistance.

Philippe Lazzarini, who briefed reporters about the outcome of Thursday's donor meeting, will be able to start operations until September by the UN Relief Agency, known as UNRWA, with a pledge when it is redeemed for cash. Said that it would be. But "I don't know if I can get the cash I need to pay my salary after September," he said.

"We are in early warning mode," Lazzarini said. "Currently we are paying attention to being in a danger zone. Beyond the turning point, UNRWA is pushed to cross the turning point as it means 28,000 teachers, healthcare professionals and nurses. The situation needs to be avoided. Doctors, engineers, no payments. "

UNRWA was or was driven home during the war over the establishment of Israel in 1948. It was founded to provide education, health care, food and other services to 700,000 Palestinians.

Currently Israeli occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon. However, UNRWA only supports more than 500,000 people in schools and nearly 2 million people with health benefits.

Lazzarini said that the $ 100 million shortage in 2022 is about the same as the shortfall that UNRWA faces every year for almost a decade, but income. Is stagnant, while costs are rising. ..

Over the past few years, UNRWA has been able to absorb shortfalls through austerity and cost control measures, but today it is not possible because there is little room to reduce services without reducing them. ..

"Today, there are some classrooms with up to 50 children," said UNRWA Commissioner General. "There is a double shift in our school. Some doctors can't spend more than three minutes on medical examinations, so beyond that, government agencies are forced to cut back on services."

Lazzarini said that UNRWA's problem is "it is expected to provide government-like services to one of the poorest communities in the region, but it relies entirely on voluntary donations. , Funded like an NGO. "

He said funding for government services is at stake today "due to lower priorities, increased indifference, or domestic politics." Stated.

Lazzarini said that solving UNRWA's chronic financial problems requires a "political will" that is consistent with supporting UNRWA's work on behalf of Palestinian refugees.

UNRWA has a very strong donor base in Europe, and last year the Biden administration resumed funding cut by the Trump administration, with an overall contribution of 3% from the Arab world. Of the agency's income he said fell below.

Donors also face financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and he said that great efforts are currently being made to support Ukraine in the war with Russia. ..

“At the end of the year, we can see how much it will affect our distributors,” says Lazzarini.

Some donors have warned UNRWA that "at the end of the year there may be no traditional replenishment and it could be dramatic," he said. Stated.

Prior to Thursday's donor meeting, Israeli UN Ambassador to the United Nations Erdan calls on countries to freeze donations until all UNRWA teachers claiming to support terrorism and the killing of Jews have been dismissed. ..

Lazzarini said UNRWA received a letter from Israel's UN mission on Friday that it had not yet read, but all allegations were investigated and if there were any violations of UN values ​​or illegal activity. "By UN policy."