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UK announces increase of aid support to UNRWA

Sept. 5, 2018 4:53 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 7, 2018 1:41 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United Kingdom announced, on Tuesday, that it increased its support by 7 million pounds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help provide continued healthcare and education to Palestinians.

The UK Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, announced that the increased aid support from the Department for International Development (DFID) aims to help UNRWA keep schools open for over 500,000 children and provide medical care for 3.5 million refugees.

Burt said that "UK aid support through UNRWA provides an essential humanitarian and stabilizing force in the Middle East, educating hundreds of thousands of children every year and providing healthcare to some of the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees. Today's UK aid package reaffirms our unequivocal support to this UN agency and the important work it does."

He stressed "we are deeply concerned about the devastating impact a shortage of funds for UNRWA could cause on those that rely on its services, as well as the consequences this could have for regional stability."

Burt also urged the international community, as well as the donor community to follow in UK's steps and increase aid support for UNRWA.

He concluded that "whilst today's UK aid announcement will help to meet immediate needs, we are clear that the UK cannot act alone. For the sake of millions of Palestinians, the international community and other donors must follow our lead and step up support to UNRWA to ensure its vital services are not interrupted."

The announcement of a 7 million pounds increase brings the UK's total annual contribution to UNRWA to 45.5 million pounds. In 2018/19, the UK has already provided 38.5 million pounds to UNRWA.

It is noteworthy that the UK increased its support to UNRWA to help ensure that Palestinians are able to continue accessing vital healthcare and education services since the agency is currently facing a budget deficit of $270 million.

UNRWA's financial crisis followed the United States Trump administration's decision to end all funds to the agency after more than seven decades of the US being the agency's largest donor with about $360 million a year.

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