The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) may convene an emergency meeting in October to discuss the expected $65 million deficit in the agency's 2001 budget, estimated at $311 million, according to the director of UNRWA operations in Jordan, William Lee.
To cover the deficit, Lee said UNRWA was trying to increase the number of donor nations starting with the Arab states, he said, quoted by the Jordan Times.
He said the Arab foreign ministers had earlier pledged to raise 7.8 percent of the agency's annual budget.
Pointing to growing pressure on UNRWA stemming from the natural increase in the number of Palestinian refugees benefiting from its services, Lee said these pressures might lead to a decline in services.
Any retreat in the level of services which UNRWA provides to the refugees will create concern among the countries hosting the refugees as well as the refugees themselves, he stressed.
Commending Jordan's unlimited support for the agency's services in health, education and social fields, Lee pointed out that the kingdom was UNRWA's largest donor nation in view of the amount of direct and indirect aid it offered to the refugees.
Lee warned that the agency would face a dangerous financial crisis once available cash ran out in October, because by then it would have exhausted all its austerity measures.
He said Jordan would be the most affected host country as a result of further austerity plans.
The number of registered refugees in the agency's five fields of operations — Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — is 3.8 million, of whom 1.8 million live in Jordan, said Lee.
He pointed out that out of the 22,000 agency's employees, 6,600 live in Jordan – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )