UN agency for Palestinian refugees faces funding crisis

Nov 29, 2021, 4:40 PM | Updated: Nov 30, 2021, 8:03 am

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — The head of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday it was unable to pay its 28,000 employees on time this month because of a major funding crisis, warning of potential cuts in vital services to millions of people amid a global pandemic.

UNRWA runs schools, clinics and food distribution programs for millions of registered Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, mainly the descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven out of what is now Israel during the 1948 war surrounding its creation.

The 5.7 million refugees mostly live in camps that have been transformed into built-up but often impoverished residential areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini told reporters in Jordan that the resumption of U.S. support for the agency this year — which had been halted by the Trump administration — was offset by a reduction in funding by other donors.

The agency also went through a management crisis in 2019, when its previous head resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct, nepotism and other abuses of authority at the agency.

Staff went on strike Monday after being informed last week that salaries would be delayed, but halted the action following mediation, Lazzarini said.

“If UNRWA health services are compromised in the middle of a global pandemic, COVID-19 vaccination rollout will come to an end. Maternal and childcare will stop, half a million girls and boys not knowing if they can continue learning, and over two million of the poorest Palestinian refugees will not get cash and food assistance,” he said.

“The humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees keep increasing while funding to the agency has stagnated since 2013.”

Lazzarini said the agency raised enough donations at a recent conference in Brussels to cover up to 48% of its budget in 2022 and 2023. It also generated $60 million toward a $100 million shortfall until the end of the year to keep services running.

“I’m still not yet in a position to say when the November salaries will be paid,” he said.

Critics of UNRWA, including Israel, accuse it of perpetuating the 73-year refugee crisis and say host nations should shoulder the burden of absorbing them.

The Palestinians say the refugees and their descendants have a “right of return” to their homes in what is now Israel, a position supported by host countries. Israel rejects that, noting that if such a right were fully implemented it would leave the country with a Palestinian majority.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Representatives of the Taliban arrive in Gardermoen, Norway, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.  A Taliban de...
Associated Press

Talks with Taliban begin in Norway

OSLO, Norway (AP) — A Taliban delegation led by acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi on Sunday started three days of talks with Western government officials and Afghan civil society representatives in Oslo amid a deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The closed-door meetings are taking place at a hotel in the snow-capped mountains above the […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Heavy gunfire reported at Burkina Faso military base

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Heavy gunfire rang out at a military base in Burkina Faso’s capital early Sunday, prompting fears that a coup attempt was underway after weeks of growing frustration with the government’s handling of the Islamic insurgency wracking the country. The government put out a statement acknowledging gunfire in army barracks but […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkish journalist jailed before trial for Erdogan insult

ISTANBUL (AP) — A well-known Turkish journalist has been jailed pending a trial for insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, her lawyer said. Sedef Kabas was taken into custody after she cited a proverb on television and social media referring to an ox. Under the insult law, tens of thousands have been prosecuted for targeting Erdogan […]
1 day ago
Members of Ukraine's Territorial Defense Forces, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, trai...
Associated Press

Russia rejects UK claim of trying to replace Ukraine leader

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Sunday rejected a British claim that Russia was seeking to replace Ukraine’s government with a pro-Moscow administration, and that former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevheniy Murayev was being considered as a potential candidate. Britain’s Foreign Office on Saturday also named several other Ukrainian politicians it said had links with Russian […]
1 day ago
A villager, dressed in a traditional bear costume, celebrates the Malanka festival in the village o...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Ukrainians observe pagan-rooted new year festival

KRASNOILSK, Ukraine (AP) — Dressed as goats, bears, oxen and cranes, many Ukrainians ring in the new year in the colorful rituals of the Malanka holiday. Malanka, which draws on pagan folk tales, marks the new year according to the Julian calendar, meaning it falls on Jan. 13-14. In the festivities, celebrants go from house […]
1 day ago
A man repairs a 10-meter wooden row boat, built in the Nordic clinker boat tradition, at the Viking...
Associated Press

UNESCO lists Viking-era wooden sailboats on heritage list

ROSKILDE, Denmark (AP) — For thousands of years, wooden sailboats allowed the peoples of Northern Europe to spread trade, influence and sometimes war across seas and continents. In December, the U.N.’s culture agency added Nordic “clinker boats” to its list of traditions that represent the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
UN agency for Palestinian refugees faces funding crisis