Belgium Pledges $23M Over 3 Years to Save UNWRA From US Cuts

A Palestinian refugee living in Syria receives medication at an UNRWA clinic

Trump took to Twitter more than two weeks ago to criticize the US aid to Palestinians. Today, it provides food, education, and other services for more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, including some 30,000 schoolteachers who serve more than half a million children.

"We would like other countries, in fact other countries that criticize the United States for what they believe to be our position vis-a-vis the step forward".

Palestine Liberation Organisation official Wasel Abu Youssef immediately criticised the move, casting it as a deliberate USA effort to deny the Palestinians their rights and linking it to Trump's widely criticised December 6 decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

But she declined to say whether the United States has given UNRWA a list of specific changes or reforms it needs to undertake to unlock the rest of the US funding.

"I call on member states of the United Nations to take a stand & demonstrate to Palestine Refugees that their rights & future matter", he wrote, announcing the global fundraising appeal.

Despite UNRWA's long record of misbehavior: "incitement against Israel, supporting violent attacks on Jews, and corruption, we are prepared to help UNRWA, conditional on it making some reforms", said Daniel Pipes, president of the Middle East Forum.

The Middle East Forum has long pressed for a tightening of requirements for the "Palestine refugee" status, seeing this as both improving Palestinian lives and diminishing the threat to Israel.

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Nauert said other countries should shoulder more of the costs for UNRWA. The by far the largest contributor to UNRWA, having provided more than $350 million previous year. Its commissioner-general, Pierre Krähenbühl says that given the long-standing relationship between the agency and the USA, "this reduced contribution threatens one of the most successful human development endeavors" in the Middle East.

Many UNRWA critics say both the USA and Israel are seeking genuine solutions for a people too long manipulated by those with little interest in their future.

Last week UNRWA warned that United States cuts will hurt half a million children; the UN agency runs 700 schools, where 525,000 boys and girls study, and operates 143 health clinics.

"We're not going to reward bad behavior", she added.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), which aids displaced people across the world, warned that the U.S. move would have "devastating consequences" on hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who depend on UNRWA services to survive.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was "very concerned" about the impact on the region.

In a Twitter post on January 2, Trump said that Washington gives the Palestinians "HUNDRED OFMILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect".

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