UNRWA Commissioner-General warns of possible collapse of the agency

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warned of the possibility of the collapse of the UN agency, saying that "the long-term shortage of funding for the agency now represents an existential threat."

Agency Commissioner-General Philip Lazzarini, in an open letter to Palestinian refugees, said that a chronic and severe lack of funding may lead to the collapse of the agency, revealing that “austerity has reached its maximum and is affecting the quality of our services...Austerity reaches its maximum when we are not able to increase the number of Poor refugees that we can support at a time when poverty is rampant.”

He added: “Austerity reaches its maximum when we put 50 children in one classroom, or leave the most disadvantaged children without transportation or stationery. Austerity reaches its maximum when the doctor cannot spend more than three minutes with the patient. Austerity reaches its maximum when many teachers and cleaners are day laborers. These are frontline employees, and it really pains me that UNRWA cannot yet give them more stable jobs.”

The Commissioner-General spoke of his meetings with Palestine refugees, throughout the year, “including children in Gaza who were traumatized, in May, by rocket fire and air strikes between Israeli forces and armed groups in the Strip.”

He also referred to the meeting of families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, “who live under the daily threat of forced displacement. I also saw the impact of the increasing violence in the West Bank on the lives of refugees in Jenin camp,” noting that “currently, there are more than five million Palestinians registered as refugees with UNRWA in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.”

And last spring, the administration of US President Joe Biden resumed its assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees - UNRWA, and provided $235 million in aid to the agency, allocated to humanitarian, economic, development and security efforts in the region, which former US President Donald Trump had suspended in 2018. All means of support for the Palestinians.

A US State Department spokesperson confirmed to Jerusalem this week that support for UNRWA and support for economic and development programs for the Palestinians lie at the heart of the US administration's vision that Palestinians and Israelis have the right to live in "equal degrees of freedom and dignity."

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