UN official: Turkey quadrupled aids to UNRWA

By Yusuf Hussein

BEIRUT (AA) – A spokeswoman for UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon said that Turkey had quadrupled its contributions to the agency after Washington’s funding cuts.

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, Huda Saeebi explained the UNRWA’s endeavors to face the current financial crisis caused by the U.S. decision.

"There are institutions that offer zakat [charitable] funds and countries that have increased their assistance to the agency, such as Turkey, which has increased its contribution by four times," she said.

The spokeswoman did not give accurate figures on the bulk of the Turkish contribution or the rate of increase each time, but it also referred to a "popular campaign" organized in Turkey to help UNRWA.

Expressing her agency's appreciation for the "efforts of donor countries," Saeebi pointed out that “UNRWA has been experiencing an unprecedented financial crisis in its history, as we have never faced such financial circumstances".

"The funds currently available are sufficient for UNRWA services until the end of September, and we currently have a deficit of $217 million," the official warned.

"If we cannot meet this deficit by the end of this year, all UNRWA services will be at stake, whether educational, medical or social," she said.

On Aug. 31, Washington cut all its funding to UNRWA, to which the U.S. had been — by far — the largest contributor.

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Later this month, donor countries plan to meet in New York to discuss the cash-strapped agency’s future.

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