The United States will pledge up to $26 million to the sixth emergency appeal for the occupied Palestinian territory of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The current appeal covers the six-month period to the end of December 2003.
The United States contribution, approved by President George W. Bush, is the largest single donation by any government to the agency’s emergency appeals since their launch, in October 2000, at the start of the intifada. Last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Red Crescent, a non-governmental organization, provided $27 million, to help rebuild the destroyed center of the Jenin Camp.
Coming on top of $15 million provided earlier in the year, this new United States pledge brings the funds provided by the United States to the UNRWA for its emergency programs to over $107 million since October 2000—36 percent of the total received.
Underfunding of its emergency appeals—supporting some 1.2 million people—is a growing concern for the Agency. In the first half of the year, donors pledged $41.3 million, barely 43 percent of the amount needed to preserve vital programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the areas of food aid, shelter repair and reconstruction, temporary job creation, remedial health and education, and psychosocial support, among others.
Until now, prospects for the current period were much worse. Only $2.5 million in firm pledges had been received, compared with the $102.9 million required. Painful cuts have already been made in some programs, resulting in mass lay-offs and reductions in food distribution rounds, and further cutbacks remain a real likelihood, unless substantial new pledges are confirmed over the next two months.
So far this year, the United States has provided the UNRWA with $129 million in funds for its regular budget activities, special projects, and the emergency programs. This makes it, by far, the largest donor to the Agency. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )