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Jordanian FM: US cut of UNRWA funding fuels radicalism
Home to More than 2 million registered Palestinians, including 370,000 in 10 refugee camps, Jordan warns of 'extremely dangerous humanitarian, political and security implications for refugees and for the whole region' in light of US UNRWA cuts.
Jordan said on Saturday it regretted a US decision to halt funding to a United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, saying it would only fuel radicalism and harm prospects for Middle East peace.

 

 

Foreign Minster Ayman Safadi told Reuters his country, which hosts more than 2 million of the over 5 million registered refugees whom the agency supports, would continue to rally donor support to ease the acute financial crunch faced by the agency.

 

The US announced on Friday it would no longer support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Earlier this year the United States, long its biggest donor, had slashed funding, paying out only $60 million of a first installment in January, and withholding $65 million. It had promised $365 million for the whole year.

 

Trump cuts US UNRWA funding (Photo: AP)
Trump cuts US UNRWA funding (Photo: AP)

 

The 68-year-old UNRWA provides services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza. Most are descendants of the roughly 700,000 Palestinians who were driven out of their homes or fled the fighting in the 1948 War of Independence, that led to Israel's creation.

 

A spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeina, said Saturday that “Palestinian leadership is examining the possibility to turn to the UN general assembly and security council in order to oppose the US decision regarding UNRWA funding.”

 

In a statement Rudeina published he added that “the US decision does not serve peace, but rather strengthens terror in the region and hurts the rights of the Palestinian people.”

 

The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly will open on 18 September 2018.

 

Rudeina added that “The American decision is a bold violation of the UN decision. This punishment will not change the fact the that US no longer has a role in this region.”

 

Staunch US ally Jordan lies at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict with many of its citizens refugees or descendants of refugees of the 1948 war. More than 2 million registered Palestinians live in Jordan, including 370,000 in ten refugee camps 

 

"Disruption of UNRWA services will have extremely dangerous humanitarian, political and security implications for refugees and for the whole region," Safadi said.

 

"It will only consolidate an environment of despair that would ultimately create fertile grounds for further tension. Politically it will also further hurt the credibility of peacemaking efforts."

 

UNRWA facilities at Balata refugee camp (Photo: AFP)
UNRWA facilities at Balata refugee camp (Photo: AFP)

 

Safadi said a meeting on Sept. 27 in New York in the United Nations which the kingdom was co-sponsoring with Japan, the European Union, Sweden and Turkey would seek to "rally political and financial support for the agency".

 

"We will do everything possible to ensure that UNRWA gets the funds it needs to continue offering its services to Palestinian refugees," Safadi added.

 

Diplomats say the US decision has stirred fears of a new Middle East policy under US President Donald Trump's administration that seeks to dilute and eventually strike out the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees.

 

Safadi said the international community's support for the agency was inseparable from future talks on the fate of refugees—among the most sensitive issues in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

 

The issue was agreed to be among final status talks that were stalled in 2014 ultimately over whether Israel would make territorial concessions in return for a lasting peace deal with the Arabs.

 

UNRWA facilities in Gaza (Photo: AP)
UNRWA facilities in Gaza (Photo: AP)

 

"The status of refugees is not determined by any one single country, it is determined under international law and as such no country can take away that status," Safadi said.

 

Earlier this year Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged action against UNRWA.

 

"We already have great-great-grandchildren of refugees who are not refugees," he said in January. "I suggest a gradual conversion of all funds going to UNRWA to other agencies."

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 09.01.18, 23:40
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