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UNRWA’s ‘unprecedented’ funding policies succeed in reducing fiscal deficit

Deficit falls from $446m to $217m; shortage still largest agency has ever witnessed, putting services at risk

By JT - Jul 12,2018 - Last updated at Jul 12,2018

AMMAN — UNRWA’s “unprecedented” funding policies succeeded in reducing its fiscal deficit from $446 million to $217 million in record time, despite the international economic situation and pressure on humanitarian institutions, the agency’s spokesperson, Sami Mshasha, said on Tuesday.

In a press statement, Mshasha said that the last six months were very “harsh” for the UNRWA and every Palestinian refugee it serves, noting that its “crippling” financial situation has placed UNRWA and refugees in fear of their future.

He noted that the relief agency is working its hardest to stand against the US decision in January to cut more than half of the funding they provide to the UNRWA, pledging that the refugee agency “will continue protecting Palestinian refugees and providing the services they need until there is a just resolution to their cause”.

Mshasha said that the current $217 million deficit marks the largest deficit the agency has ever witnessed, which puts the services it offers at risk should no additional funding be offered soon.

“The coming months are crucial for UNRWA, but we will knock on all doors and study all possibilities to obtain the needed funding,” he explained, adding “we had to take some internal measures to decrease the risks on our vital and basic services, including changing some UNRWA workers’ contracts into part-time contracts, while some others’ will not be renewed”.

He said that this decision aims at giving priority to more vital services like the distribution of food parcels to 1 million Palestinians in Gaza who were denied their right to work due to the occupation’s blockade on the coastal enclave.

Although the UNRWA is keen on opening its 700 schools to the more than half a million students in the coming year, the official said it will be announced in August if they can do so.

He warned of circulating rumours on the agency’s future, stressing: “UNRWA is here to stay and our efforts to fight for the refugees’ rights will continue until we overcome this crisis and mitigate the consequences of the US aid-cut decision.”

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