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The New Arab

Germany to increase UNRWA funding following US aid cuts

Maas urged the EU and other states to work towards sustaining the organisation [AFP]

Date of publication: 1 September, 2018

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The German government has pledged to significantly increase its funding for the UN agency that supports Palestinian refugees, after the United States announced it will cut aid.
Berlin has vowed to boost its funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after Washington announced it is cutting planned aid on Friday.

The German government is planning a significant increase in its aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), in attempt to help the agency overcome a funding crisis.

"The loss of this organisation could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction," German foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a letter to EU foreign minister, according to Reuters.

"We are currently preparing to provide an additional amount of significant funds," he said.

Maas gave no indication of how much the increase will be but said it will not cover the deficit caused by the US cuts. 

He urged the EU and other states to work towards "a sustainable finance basis for the organisation".

This year, Germany contributed 81 million euros ($94 million) in aid for UNWRA.

The move comes after Donald Trump's administration announced it is cutting nearly $300 million in planned aid for the agency, ending decades of support.

The State Department announced in a written statement on Friday that the United States "will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation." 

The US supplies nearly 30 percent of the total budget of UNRWA, which provides health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Jordan announced on Thursday it would lead a campaign to raise funds to help sustain UNRWA.

It is set to host a fundraiser for the agency at the UN headquarters next month. 

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the New York event seeks to "close the gap and put in place a plan that will ensure UNRWA's continued, ongoing funding for the coming years".

The agency was created in 1949 to support 750,000 Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes during the war surrounding the creation of Israel. Those still alive today along with their descendants are classified as refugees. 

Trump's administration has contributed $60 million to the agency in 2018, compared to more than $360 million last year.

Last week, Washington announced further cuts to Palestinian aid, slashing $200 million in funding for programmes in Gaza and the West Bank.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinian Authority nosedived after Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Palestinian leadership has suspended contact with the US administration and says Washington can no longer play a mediation role in the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

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