Jordan said Saturday it would continue contacts with all stakeholders to ensure sustained support for UNRWA after the US halted its funding to the UN agency.
“We will continue contacts to mobilise all parties to secure political and financial support to ensure the continuation of UNRWA and that it continues its role in providing services to the Palestinian refugees in various fields of health, education and other areas,” Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
Her remarks came one day after the United States halted all funding to a UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees, a decision that would further deepen tension between the Palestinian leadership and the Trump administration.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the business model and fiscal practices of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency made it an “irredeemably flawed operation”.
“The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA,” she said in a statement, cited by Reuters.
According to the report, Nauert said the agency’s “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries is simply unsustainable and has been in crisis mode for many years”.
Ghunaimat said the right of Palestinian refugee for return and compensation is acknowledged by the international resolutions. Therefore, Jordan is working to raise the necessary funding to the UN agency, which was created in 1949 for provide services to more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
“Jordan will soon host a conference in this regard and will continue its diplomatic efforts to preserve these rights and maintain the role of UNRWA,” said the minister over the phone.
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UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha voiced the agency’s deep regret and disappointment over the US decision, which ends funding after decades of “strong political and financial support”.
“This decision is surprising as the US and UNRWA renewed the funding agreement in November 2017, which was a sign of the US recognition of the successful and dedicated management of the agency and its professionalism,” he said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times on Saturday.
“We strongly reject remarks that the agency’s schools, health centres and aid programmes witness irredeemably flawed operation…our programmes and achievements are among the most successful and remarkable programmes in the field of human development in the Middle East,” he said, adding that donor countries and the international community constantly commended the agency’s role.
The agency’s spokesperson said the US used to be the largest and most generous donor to the agency and made valuable contributions to the agency’s humanitarian and life-saving operations, including extending support to ensure girls’ access to education, providing food assistance and ensuring high quality health services to the most vulnerable segments.
“After the US’ latest announcement, UNRWA will work with more determination to lobby support along with local partners including Gulf states and countries in Asia, Europe and elsewhere,” he said.
UNRWA, Mshasha said, is grateful for the solidarity demonstrated by all sides and the generosity of many donors, which enabled the agency to start the school year on time, adding that the agency would continue to provide its services in the operation areas.
By Mohammad Ghazal