Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on Thursday warned that the US administration’s threat to cut its funding to UNRWA would have disastrous consequences if carried out.
NRC said that cutting fund would punish hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, who depend on the Agency for their education. It would also deny their parents the only social safety net that helps them to survive under occupation or in the case of displacement.
NRC secretary general, Jan Egeland, said in a press statement that threatening to cut aid for political purposes to millions of civilians who need it is what is expected from undemocratic regimes not from the world’s biggest humanitarian donor.
Egeland added that cutting funds to UNRWA will push millions of Palestinians further into poverty and despair, stressing that other humanitarian organizations simply do not have the capacity to meet their needs if this decision is implemented, and it would all fall on Israel, as an occupying power, as well as the governments of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria to do so.
NRC works closely with UNRWA in Gaza providing psychosocial support to traumatized children in its schools in addition to legal assistance to the refugees whose homes destroyed in the 2014 war are being reconstructed.
In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, NRC works with UNRWA to protect the Palestinian communities at the risk of forced displacement. Cutting UNRWA funding would undo years of work with a generation living under constant siege and recurring conflict.
Egeland noted that UNRWA budget cuts would exacerbate the situation for Palestinian refugees in Syria since 95% of them are in dire need for humanitarian assistance. It would also have devastating consequences in Jordan and Lebanon where UNRWA is the most important provider of assistance and services to Palestinian refugees, many of whom already live in abject poverty.
He explained that the US is UNRWA’s largest donor, contributing $364 million of funding in 2017, followed by the European Union. Together they contribute almost 40% of UNRWA’s total funding for its core budget.
“Cutting much-needed aid to refugees because Palestinian leaders have positions the US disagrees with is outrageous,” Egeland said. “We call on the US administration not to follow through with this threat which would tarnish its reputation and undermine its role as a humanitarian donor.”
(Source / 12.01.2018)