The United Nations received pledges Thursday of almost $100 million in new funding for the U.N. relief agency for Palestinians after the USA slashed its aid, but it is still facing a almost $350 million shortfall this year.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who co-hosted the meeting with Jordan and Sweden, was hopeful the US would continue to support the agency and the creation of a viable Palestinian state that can care for its own people.
United Nations officials said the countries providing the new financing included Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France.
Speaking at the extraordinary conference to support UNRWA in Rome, Hamdallah said the financial commitments to be made during the conference will serve as a constituent part of aid to relieve the agency, which has been facing a financial crisis in recent months due in part to the cumulative decrease of funding.
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". With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?"
UNRWA's budget crisis has been exacerbated by a January decision by its main donor, the U.
Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, calling on the global community to support UNRWA and denouncing Washington and Israel.
This Jan. 31, 2014 photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk line up to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria.
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According to Gunness, existing funds will only allow the agency to carry on with operations until summertime, and so a "sustainable financial footing" is required.
Lebanon is home to 174,422 Palestinian refugees living in the country's 12 camps and "gatherings" - areas with at least 15 Palestinian families. Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the conference was "a very successful beginning" but that more fundraising was necessary.
The agency's chief, Pierre Kraehenbuel, said expectations in the region were high that donors would step up.
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