AMMAN (Xinhua) – The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) urgently needs between 50 million and 80 million U.S. dollars to finish the year and maintain the operations of its schools, health centers and other basic services, the agency’s Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini says.
At the agency’s Advisory Commission Meeting in Amman, Lazzarini warned that failure to raise that amount poses significant risks of industrial action, strikes, and consequently the suspension of services, according to a UNRWA statement.
The agency also needs some 200 million dollars over a period of three years to reach the objectives of the UNRWA Strategic Plan, Lazzarini added.
After years of austerity measures, the current underfunding problem can only be downsized through cuts to services or to the eligibility to access them, he said.
“Our hospitalization program needs more support to remain effective in protecting Palestine refugees’ access to hospitals amid widespread poverty and collapsing public services,” the UN official was quoted as saying.
He stressed that the current situation will increase health and security risks for refugees and staff as critical maintenance work and replacement of assets that have been worn down by years of austerity will be further postponed.
Meanwhile, Jordan’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Monday urged the international community to maintain necessary financial support to UNRWA.
Making his remarks at the opening of the agency’s Advisory Commission Meeting, Safadi emphasized that the centrality of the agency’s role was to provide essential services for Palestinian refugees, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
He emphasized the necessity to translate the political support for the agency into sustainable financial support that could bridge the agency’s budget financial deficit and help it continue to serve Palestinian refugees.
Safadi called on the international community to diversify funding sources and called on donors to make multi-year commitments.