Saturday, 24 Feb 2018 - 9 of Adar, 5778

Belgium pledges immediate financial aid for UNWRA after US announced major cut

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BRUSSELS —A day after the Trump administration announced a major cut of $65 million in the US funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Belgium pledged to help out the UN Agency with a payment of $19 million.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday that “for a lot of Palestinian refugees, UNRWA is the last life buoy.”

The Belgian ministry of foreign affairs said it was responding to a global fundraising appeal from UNRWA in hopes of making up for funding cuts announced by the United States. The 19 million euros is Belgium’s allocation for three years but because of the group’s immediate need, De Croo’s office said it will be “disbursed immediately.”

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation Alexander De Croo.

UNRWA said it is facing its “worst financial crisis” in almost 70 years after the Trump administration announced that more than half of its payments planned for early 2018, or 65 out of $ 125 million.

The European Union as a whole is the first fincial support of UNWRA.

Europeans are also the second largest donors to the Palestinian Authority (PA) after the US.

On Monday, the EU Foreign Ministers are due to meet in Brussels in the margin of their monthly gathering with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, for a working lunch. Last month, the ministers invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting.

The EU top diplomats are to discuss with Abbas the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel by US President Donald Trump, and ways to relaunch the Israeli-Palestinian peace process..

The issue of financial support for Palestinians will also be discussed on January 31 at a meeting in Brussels of the countries of the International Donor Group for Palestine, chaired by Norway.

This group, which is in principle supported by the EU and the United States, includes representatives of the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government, Canada, Egypt, Japan, Jordan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, as well as the IMF and the UN.


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