India has pledged USD 5 million in assistance to the UN agency working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees to help bolster its “severe funding crisis” following US’ cut in its annual aid to UNRWA.
A total of 20 countries, including India, announced contributions to the 2018 budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East during a meeting, as officials called for stable financing for the agency amid devastating conflicts and violence in the Middle East.
UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, to some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation — Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — for 65 years.
However, in January, the agency’s financial situation became catastrophic due to the sudden loss of USD 300 million in voluntary contributions. The Trump administration in January US said it would withhold USD 65 million of USD 125 million it had planned to send to UNRWA.
Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees. The Agency began operations on 1 May 1950.
In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020.
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions from the UN Member States. UNRWA also receives some funding from the Regular Budget of the United Nations, which is used mostly for international staffing costs.
The Agency’s services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict.