Germany to Boost Funds for Palestinians After US Cut

US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House

US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House

The State Department announces, the Trump administration is officially cutting off funds to a United Nations program, that doles out aid to Palestinian refugees.

The Trump administration is expected to announce Friday that it is permanently slashing funds to the United Nations' refugee agency, in a move that security officials worry could spark Palestinian unrest but that the administration says is part of a wider USA strategy.

The withdrawal of the US funding will be a blow to an agency that now supports more than 5 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza.

There have been widespread warnings about the impact about a halt to funding from the United States which contributed $350 million to UNRWA's budget previous year.

The United States paid out $60 million to UNRWA in January but withheld another $65 million pending a review.

Today, there are an estimated 5 million refugees and their descendants, mostly scattered across the region.

Palestinian refugees are seen receiving medical check ups and aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
Palestinian refugees are seen receiving medical check ups and aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency

Washington has always been the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) largest donor but is "no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

"We made it clear that the United States was no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden of UNRWA's costs that we had assumed for many years", Nauert said in the statement.

The Palestinian Authority has refused all contact with Washington since US President Donald Trump announced late a year ago that he was unilaterally recognising Jerusalem - which is claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians - as the Israeli capital, making the US one of very few countries to do so.

Dave Harden, a former US Agency for International Development official, told Foreign Policy that the decision to cut UNWRA funding could embolden Hamas.

The latest announcement comes a week after the administration said it would redirect $200 million in Palestinian economic support funds for programs in the West Bank and Gaza. "The loss of this organization could unleash an uncontrollable chain reaction", Maas said.

The State Department said it would begin discussing new approaches for providing aid to Palestinian refugees with the United Nations, host governments and worldwide stakeholders. The US has remained UNRWA's major benefactor and an end to American support for the agency could prove fatal.

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