UNRWA chief makes urgent appeal for funding, says agency risks ‘collapse’

“The financial situation is a real existential threat,” says UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini, citing reduced U.S. and Arab support for the agency.

By JNS.org

United Nation Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) chief Philippe Lazzarini warned on Friday that due to a severe funding crisis, the organization faces collapse, Associated Press reported.

“The financial situation is a real existential threat to the organization,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini told reporters. “We should not underestimate this because it might force the organization to decrease services.”

UNRWA could “collapse very quickly” if services are cut, he added.

Lazzarini stressed the importance of the United States restarting aid to the agency (the Trump administration cut funding to UNRWA in 2018), but said that U.S. funding wouldn’t make up the shortfall in funding from other sources, due to COVID-19’s economic impact and a decline in Arab support, according to AP.

Arab support to UNRWA dropped from “$200 million in 2018 to about $89 million in 2019 and $37 million in 2020,” according to the report.

Sweden and Jordan will co-host a conference in mid-November in Brussels with the goal of ensuring “predictable multi-year” funding for the agency.