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Arab foreign ministers rally behind Palestinian agency after US funding cut

Arab League Foreign Ministers met Cairo to discuss the funding crisis at UNRWA [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 September, 2018

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Some Arab states have pledged millions of dollars to plug the shortfall after the Trump administration cut its $300m contribution to the agency.

Arab foreign ministers meeting in Egypt have rallied behind the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, after the United States ended decades of funding for the organisation.

The ministers also said Tuesday they regretted Washington's decision to suspend funding and warned of the humanitarian consequences for five million refugees assisted by the agency.

Arab League states met in the Egyptian capital in Cairo for a summit devoted largely to UNRWA.

UNRWA was established after the war surrounding Israel's establishment in 1948 to aid the 700,000 Palestinians who were forced from their homes. Today, it provides education, health care and social services to some five million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The agency is also a major employer in the Palestinian areas.

The US on 31 August cut roughly $300 million in assistance for UNRWA, saying it would no longer fund UNRWA because it was "irredeemably flawed".

The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Monday appealed for funds to tackle an unprecedented financial crisis caused by the US scrapping contributions.

To help plug the shortfall, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have all said they will contribute $50 million (43 million euros) each, UNRWA commissioner general Pierre Krahenbuhl said.

Meanwhile, the UK and Germany have pledged to increase their contributions to the agency by several million dollars.

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