Saudi Arabia has contributed an additional $600,000 to Palestinian refugees, bringing its total aid for 2001 to $1.8 million, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said Saturday, April 7.
"We highly appreciate the Saudi contribution to the UNRWA budget but we also hope that Arab countries as a whole will raise their contributions," UNRWA press officer in Amman Matar Saqr told AFP.
According to Saqr only two Arab countries, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, are among the 23 key donors who give more than one million dollars a year to help finance the UNRWA budget.
"But Saudi and Kuwaiti contributions represent only 1.9 percent of UNRWA's total budget" of around $311 million for 2001, which currently faces a $65-million deficit, Saqr said.
He stressed that the latest Saudi contribution was allocated to special projects "outside the UNRWA budget", adding that Kuwait's annual contribution stood at $1.7 million.
The other four Gulf monarchies provide UNRWA with a total of $685,000, $500,000 of that from the United Arab Emirates, Saqr said.
In March UNRWA issued a new appeal for additional emergency aid totally $37.2 million to help Palestinians families living under Israeli siege in the Palestinian territories, as a result of the six-month-old uprising.
Israel has imposed a military blockade on the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of the latest Palestinian uprising on September 28.
The closure, which prevents Palestinians from working in Israel and limits their ability to travel between Arab-run areas, has caused the Palestinian economy to plummet and poverty rates to skyrocket. "So far we have received firm pledges for $20 million," Saqr said.
UNWRA provides aid to around 3.8 million Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and nearby Arab countries, who were made homeless by the fighting that followed the creation of Israel in 1948.
Some 575,000 of them live in the camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip where the current wave of violence has flared. — (AFP, Amman)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)