Feeling the Pressure, UNRWA Accuses US, Israel of Lobbying to End Its Services

UNRWA interim head, Christian Saunders, visits Yarmouk to assess damaged UNRWA facilities in what was once Syria's largest Palestinian camp. (Photo: via Twitter)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The interim head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Christian Saunders, directly accused the US and Israeli governments of working against the relief agency, which is responsible for the welfare of millions of Palestinians.

In an interview with Reuters from his Gaza office on Thursday, Saunders said that the US is lobbying foreign parliaments to stop donations to the organization, following a decision by Washington to completely cut its funding to UNRWA in August 2018.

The US is “advocating against funding UNRWA in the European parliaments and elsewhere,” Sanders said.

UNRWA’s acting head has also said that Israel is trying to replace UNRWA’s services for Palestinian refugees in occupied East Jerusalem with those of its own.

We are feeling “the pressure in East Jerusalem in particular”, where Israel is constructing alternative institutions “to compete” with the UN-funded agency so that it would eventually block its services in the occupied Palestinian city. 

UNRWA was established in December 1949 following the passing UN General Assembly Resolution 302.

Initially, it began its operations in the services of one million Palestinian refugees, starting on May 1, 1950. Since then, its responsibility has grown to cover the needs of over 5 million Palestinian refugees who are scattered across Palestine and the Middle East.

“Yet, in August 2018, the US, which had been its largest contributor, completely cut off its $364m annual contribution to UNRWA,” Palestinian journalist and editor of the Palestine Chronicle reported at the time, adding, “and in January 2019, Israel began carrying out punitive measures to block the agency’s work in occupied East Jerusalem.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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