UNRWA food aid in Gaza
A Palestinian receiving UNRWA food aid in Gaza
Photo: EPA
A Palestinian receiving UNRWA food aid in Gaza

UAE halts funding to UN Palestinian agency in 'reset' of aid program

Emirati Minister of International Cooperation says decision to halt funding was taken when country revised its aid program at end of 2019, not related to newly established ties with Israel

Reuters |
Published: 02.08.21 , 20:27
The United Arab Emirates does not plan to resume funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, which was halted last year, until steps are taken to manage funds more efficiently, a UAE government official said.
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  • The Gulf state, current chair of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) advisory committee, provided the agency with $50 million in 2019 and $20 million in 2018, but made no contributions last year, although the official said UAE charitable groups donated $1 million.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    UNRWA food aid in Gaza
    UNRWA food aid in Gaza
    A Palestinian receiving UNRWA food aid in Gaza
    (Photo: EPA)
    "We are in dialogue with UNRWA's leadership on how to enhance effectiveness of aid," UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation Reem al-Hashimy told Reuters this week.
    She said the decision to halt funding was taken when the oil producing country revised its aid program at the end of 2019 and was not related to the UAE establishing ties with Israel under a U.S.-brokered deal in September.
    "COVID was a revealing time and led us to push the reset button. We believe that we have a moral responsibility but not under the same mechanism," she said.
    "We want to see how international organizations are revising their approach - we are looking for more efficacy, and a wiser way of utilizing funds."
    3 צפייה בגלריה
    L-R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates; and Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain
    L-R) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates; and Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House in Sept. 2020
    (Photo: EPA)
    UNRWA, which helps around 5.7 million registered refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza, has faced budgetary difficulties since 2018 when the United States, its biggest donor, halted annual aid of more than $300 million.
    U.S. President Joe Biden who took office last month is expected to resume funding, at least partially.
    3 צפייה בגלריה
     The closed gate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school is seen amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza
     The closed gate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school is seen amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Gaza
    An UNRWA school in Gaza is closed during coronavirus pandemic
    (Photo: EPA)
    The UAE, once a major donor for Yemen and a member of the Saudi-led military coalition that intervened in the country in 2015, also did not contribute to a 2020 donors conference that the United Nations said fell short of its target, risking severe cuts to the world's largest humanitarian aid program.
    Hashimy said that after the coronavirus pandemic, demand on donors was greater than ever before and the UAE was pushing forward with support for organizations that utilize funds efficiently, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.

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