UNRWA scrambles to fill gaping hole left by US cuts

This week, the Palestinians’ UN agency received extra contributions to fill the gap left after the United States decided to pull all funding.

By Joseph Wolkin

The United Nations dedicated agency for Palestinians entered recovery mode when President Donald Trump cut more than $200 million in aid this past August that was supposed to run throughout 2018.

The agency, UNRWA, aimed to fill the gap for its $1.2 billion budget. When Trump opted to drop out of UNRWA altogether, it left UNRWA with an overall $446 million deficit.

On Thursday, UNRWRA announced it is close to filling out the gap.

Trump and Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, have taken several stands against UNRWA over the past two years, opposing its terror incitement, anti-Semitic curriculum in UNRWA schools, and perpetration of the Palestinian “refugee” quagmire.

UNRWA’s chief, Pierre Kraehenbuehl, gained extra support from several Muslim-majority nations, including pledges from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabi and the United Arab Emirates. Each of the countries are now giving UNRWA $50 million each.

“I’ll be very honest in saying, I don’t think many people believed that we would be able to overcome a $446 million shortfall at the beginning of the year,” Kraehenbuehl said.

UNRWA considers anyone who is a descendant of a Palestinian who fled Israel during its 1948 war of independence to be a refugee.

Recently, New Zealand, India and Pakistan boosted their financial contributions to UNRWA. Among those who will also add funding to the Palestinian agency are Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Mexico and France.

The United States gave UNWRA $364 million in 2017, down $4 million from the year prior. No single nation came close to the United States, with the European Union donating $142.5 million last year, not even half of what America gave.

Now, the UN agency’s deficit is just $64 million under budget. In all, they’ve raised $382 million since Trump’s January announcement, when he made his first round of massive cuts to UNWRA.