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. In March, India announced it will increase its annual contribution to the UNRWA from USD 1.5 million to USD 5 million from 2018-19 for a period of three years.
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.
Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said that in January, the agency’s financial situation became catastrophic due to the sudden loss of USD 300 million in voluntary contributions. 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.
UNRWA relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions from states and the US is the largest contributor. Mr Trump has questioned the value of such funding, and the US State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.