Issue Brief on “UNRWA: US Cut in Funding Leaves Palestinian Refugees in a Lurch”

The Trump administration announced on September 1, 2018 that it will cut its entire budget to United Nations Relief Works Agency in charge of providing assistance to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.[1] According to officials, the Trump administration is considering alternative options to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. The alternatives however, have not been specified.

The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees was founded in 1948 following the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Agency was aimed at addressing the refugee problem emanating from the conflict, resulting in the loss of homes and livelihoods. Since then, UNRWA, funded by voluntary contributions, as well as funding from the regular budget of the United Nations has been continuing to provide education, healthcare, emergency assistance, social services, and among others, relief during armed conflict. UNRWA has catered to several generations of Palestinian refugees and the recent funding cuts announced by the Trump administration have dealt a severe blow to the relief agency and can also be seen as a blow to multilateralism as embodied by the UN system. The UNRWA funding cut is a flagrant assault on the needy refugees, heavily dependent on the relief works agency to help Palestinian refugees survive. As of now, five million[2] Palestine Refugees are eligible to receive assistance from UNRWA. The United States, among others has been one of the top donor governments to have donated to UNRWA.

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