GAZA CITY, Palestine
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Thursday it is on the “cliff’s edge” due to lack of funding.
Speaking at a news conference, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said that the agency is facing a great financial crisis.
“UNRWA received this year the lowest level of contributions since 2012, at a time when the needs of refugees are compounded by the effects of the pandemic on their meager resources,” Lazzarini said.
“With the Agency’s cash flow at their lowest levels since 2012, and with needs of refugees critically high because of the impact of COVID-19, the risk for GBV [gender-based violence] survivors become acute if support to them is threatened,” he said.
“As of today, I do not yet have sufficient funds to pay November salaries to the UNRWA staff who are at the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lazzarini said.
He reiterated the UN agency’s assurance of continuing to provide services to “Palestinian refugees until a political solution to their cause is found.”
“I urge the international community to step up its support to UNRWA immediately,” he said.
UNRWA provides its services to about 5.3 million Palestinian refugees and is suffering from a stifling financial crisis since the United States in January froze all its support for the agency claiming that it is not satisfied with the way the agency works which is being criticized by Israel.
*Bassel Barakat in Ankara contributed to this report
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