India Pledges $5 Million For UN Palestinian Aid Agency

India has pledged USD 5 million in assistance to the UN agency working for the welfare of Palestinian refugees to help bolster its “severe funding crisis” following US’ cut in its annual aid to UNRWA.

A total of 20 countries, including India, announced contributions to the 2018 budget of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East during a meeting, as officials called for stable financing for the agency amid devastating conflicts and violence in the Middle East.

In March, India announced it will increase its annual contribution to the UNRWA from USD 1.5 million to USD 5 million from 2018-19 for a period of three years.

While India pledged USD 5 million, Sweden will contribute USD 250 million over four years, the UK USD 51 million and the UAE USD 50 million among other donors, said a UN statement on Monday.

Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA, said that in January, the agency’s financial situation became catastrophic due to the sudden loss of USD 300 million in voluntary contributions.

“Facing the most severe funding crisis in our history, we had no time for pessimism or indecision,” he said.

“We cannot afford to allow UNRWA’s vital efforts to falter. Failure to provide desperately needed resources comes with a price: more hardship for communities, more desperation for the region; more instability for our world,” UN chief Antonio Guterres was quoted as saying in the statement.

UNRWA has been providing health, education, relief and social services, as well as emergency humanitarian assistance, to some 5.3 million Palestinian refugees across its five fields of operation – Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – for 65 years, it said.

The Trump administration in January US said it would withhold USD 65 million of USD 125 million it had planned to send to UNRWA.

UNRWA relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions from states and the US is the largest contributor.

Mr Trump has questioned the value of such funding, and the US State Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

Over 120 countries defied Mr Trump in December and voted in favour of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for the US to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

About UNRWA:
United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a Relief and human development agency. It was established in 8 December 1949. It has been providing relief, social services health and education as well as emergency humanitarian assistance since 1950.
UNRWA is the only UN agency dedicated to helping refugees from a specific region or conflict and is separate from UNHCR Formed in 1950.  UNHCR is the main UN refugee agency. It is responsible for aiding other refugees all over the world. 
Area of Operation: 
UNRWA includes areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. It provides aid in 5 fields of operation, Syria, West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon, and Gaza Strip.
Aid for Palestinian refugees outside these 5 areas of operation is provided by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees).

Relation about India and UNRWA:
Government of India is assisting 150 Palestinian professionals under Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) programme every year. 
India has increased its annual financial contribution fourfold to UNRWA core budget from $1.25 Million in 2016 to $5 million in 2018 in solidarity with Palestine refugees.
In the past 5 years under India-Palestine Development Partnership, several agreements have been signed in fields of IT, agriculture, healthcare, women’s empowerment, media, consular affairs and youth affairs.

Palestine Refugees:
The term Palestine refugees originally referred to both Arabs and Jews whose normal place of residence had been in Mandatory Palestine. Palestine Refuge are people who lost their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 Palestine war.

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