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UNRWA welcomes US decision to restore assistance to support Palestine refugees

Jerusalem (QNN)- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) welcomed the US announcement of the resumption of financial assistance to the Palestinian people, amounting to $235 million.

Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini expressed gratitude for the renewed UNRWA-U.S. relationship and welcomed the funding disbursement, as former US President Donald Trump cut the assistance in 2018.

“UNRWA and the United States are historical partners in working together, alongside other generous UN Member States, to ensure that Palestine refugees can thrive,” said Lazzarini in a statement.

He added, “UNRWA could not be more pleased that once again we will partner with the United States to provide critical assistance to some of the most vulnerable refugees across the Middle East and fulfill our mandate to educate and provide primary health care to millions of refugees every day.”

“There is no other institution that does what UNRWA does, and we are committed to protecting the safety, health and future of the millions of refugees we serve. The U.S. contribution comes at a critical moment, as we continue to adjust to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presents. We encourage all Member States to contribute to UNRWA.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday that the United States plans to restart US economic, development, and humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people.

This includes $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza, $10 million for peace building programs through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and $150 million in humanitarian assistance for UNRWA.

“The United States is resuming support for UNRWA’s services, including education for over 500,000 Palestinian boys and girls, thereby providing hope and stability in UNRWA’s five fields of operation in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” Blinken said.

“Funding to UNRWA also provides critical COVID-19 assistance, including healthcare, medicine, and medical supplies, as well as cash and food assistance to families severely impacted by COVID-19.”

Blinken stated that US foreign assistance for the Palestinian people serves important U.S. interests and values.

“It provides critical relief to those in great need, fosters economic development, and supports Israeli-Palestinian understanding, security coordination and stability. It also aligns with the values and interests of our allies and partner,” he said.

In 2018, the Trump administration blocked nearly all aid to Palestinians after it severed ties with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

On January 17, 2018, the US cut more than half its planned funding ($65m out of a $125m aid package) to the UNRWA.

On August 25, 2018, the US cut $200m economic aid to the Palestinians after it had planned to provide $251m for good governance, health, education and funding for civil society in the 2018 budget.

On August 31, 2018, the US State Department said it is stopping all funding to UNRWA after determining the organisation to be an “irredeemably flawed operation”.

On September 9, 2018, the US slashed one of its last remaining aid programmes ($25m in financial assistance) to a network of six hospitals in occupied East Jerusalem.

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