Trump administration cuts US$300-million from funding to Palestinian refugees

Palestinians step up attacks on Trump administration

Trump administration cuts US$300-million from funding to Palestinian refugees

The Trump administration has made a decision to cancel all its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), a unique agency which has been maintaining the refugee status of more than five million people who never left home, the Washington Post reported Thursday night.

The U.S. supplies almost 30 per cent of the total budget of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, and had been demanding reforms in the way it is run.

In July, after 125 local UNRWA staff members lost their jobs and 800 more had their contracts downgraded in the wake of the cuts, a Palestinian aid worker attempted to set himself on fire during a demonstration.

He said the agency would now move forward with "even greater determination and engagement" to enlist funds to make up for the U.S. aid cuts from current and new donor states.

This enables UNRWA to classify more than 5 million people as "refugees", whereas its critics claim the real number is in the tens of thousands.

While lamenting the Trump administration's decision, Gunness noted the "much valued contribution" to UNRWA's activities the USA has made as its "largest and most generous donor". At the time officials said the department was reassessing future aid, and called on other countries to take on greater financial responsibility. The US has remained UNRWA's major benefactor and an end to American support for the agency could prove fatal.

In her statement, Nauert said that the UNWRA's business model and fundamental practices were "unsustainable".

However, the statement said the U.S. would look for other ways to aid the Palestinians. They were not authorized to discuss the internal deliberations and requested anonymity. "They deserve to be able to plan for the future".

"The consecutive American decisions represent a flagrant assault against the Palestinian people and a defiance of United Nations resolutions", Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rdainah told Reuters news agency on Friday.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas meets US President Donald Trump In the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017.

The State Department said in a statement that after contributing $60 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East in January, "the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share".

In January, the U.S. announced it would withhold more than half of a tranche of funding for the agency. Israel's Channel 2 news also reported that the administration will remove the Palestinian refugees' "right of return" from the negotiating table.

A senior Israeli official told Channel 10 TV that Israel supports providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians, but not through UNWRA.

"As long as a just a lasting solution has not found of the issue of Israel-Palestine conflict we will continue to implement the mandate that the General Assembly has given us".

Residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, line up to receive food supplies in Damascus, Syria in January 2014. S move as a "grave escalation against the Palestinian people".

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