Qatar pledges $50mn funding for UNRWA
March 15 2018 04:57 PM
Al-Hammadi: reiterates Qatar's support to Palestinians
Al-Hammadi: reiterates Qatar's support to Palestinians


Qatar has announced a $50mn donation to the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees.
The announcement was made during a donors' conference of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) held on Thursday at the headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome.
Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Dr Ahmed bin Hassan al-Hammadi headed Qatar's delegation to the conference which was attended among others by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini.
Al-Hammadi said funding the UNRWA projects reflects a commitment that must be fulfilled by the global community.
He also said it was necessary to provide adequate guarantees for the continued funding of the agency and not to expose it to any financial shortfalls that violate its responsibilities and obligations.
Al-Hammadi said the organisation represents one of the international law mechanisms adopted by the UN to protect Palestinian refugees and to safeguard their rights and provide them with a decent living.
He said Qatar continues to carry out its duties and responsibilities towards funding the UNRWA, and has continued to finance projects implemented by the agency, especially in the education and health sectors.
The Secretary General also highlighted Qatar's support to the countries hosting Palestinian refugees, which are making efforts to ensure their right to a decent life.
UNRWA is looking to cover an estimated $446mn budget shortfall that was largely caused by President Donald Trump's abrupt decision in January to effectively freeze US aid to the Palestinians.
Yesterday's conference drew promises from countries around the world of additional funds of some $100mn, leaving UNWRA with an uphill task to keep its core education, healthcare and food security services afloat.
"A very important first stop was reached today, but a long way is in front of us," Guterres told reporters after the meeting.
"If UNWRA did not exist, if its services were not provided, the security of the region would be undermined," he added.
Washington donates about $350mn a year to UNRWA, which was founded in 1949 to aid Palestinian refugees, but so far this year has handed over $60mn.
UN officials fear they might not receive any more from the United States in 2018.
Trump said in January the United States would only give aid if the Palestinians agreed to renew peace talks with Israel.
The talks have been frozen since 2014, and with no negotiations in sight, envoys from around 70 countries and organisations met in Rome to discuss the funding crisis.
Going into the meeting, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl had warned his organisation would run out of funds in May.
The new pledges gave the agency a bit more breathing room.
"It will last us a couple of months more into the middle or beginning of the summer," he said.
"We need to be optimistic."
Among the other countries that had offered more money were France, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Mexico, Slovakia and India, he said.
UNRWA operates in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, in Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
It runs 710 schools, its doctors carry out a total 9mn consultancies a year and it feeds some 1.7mn people - mostly in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians say funding cuts would especially impact Gaza, blockaded by Israel and Egypt where half of its 2mn population rely on humanitarian aid and where the jobless rate is 46%.

Last updated: March 15 2018 11:58 PM

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