U.N. Agency for Palestinians Seeks Funds After U.S. Cuts

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl addressing a news conference at a U.N.-run school in Gaza City on Monday. (Reuters/Suhaib Salem)

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Monday launched an “unprecedented” appeal seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in response to funding cuts by the Trump administration.

Last week the State Department notified the U.N. Relief and Works Agency that the U.S. is withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment. It also made clear that additional U.S. donations will be contingent on major changes by UNRWA, which has been heavily criticized by Israel.

UNRWA’s commissioner-general Pierre Krahenbuhl on Monday called the decision “abrupt and harmful,” during a visit to the Gaza Strip.

He said the agency will create new funding alliances and get the U.N. secretary-general involved in high-level ministerial meetings to generate donations from countries.

The “Dignity is Priceless” campaign aims to raise $500 million to ensure that the agency’s core services are unaffected.

“We cannot accept that this investment in education, in health care, and in dignity and respect would be interrupted in any way. It’s much too risky for the entire Middle East,” Krahenbuhl warned.

Appeals for financial aid to make up for the lost American funding have already been answered in part. Belgium and the Netherlands have pledged to make advance payments on their regular contributions, for $23.3 million and $15 million in funding, respectively.