Germany and other donors speed up funding for Palestinians after US aid cut | News | DW | 30.01.2018

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Germany and other donors speed up funding for Palestinians after US aid cut

Following President Donald Trump's move to cut aid to the UN agency for Palestinians, 11 nations have rushed to deliver their funds early. The agency appealed for $800 million to provide aid to Palestinian refugees.

On Tuesday, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees urged donor countries to speed up their funding to ensure that services continue after US President Donald Trump slashed funding to the organization.

Eleven countries have already taken steps to send their donations early, said Pierre Krähenbühl, commissioner general  of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

Germany, Russia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark have already provided their complete annual donations, while Kuwait, the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland have vowed to deliver the full funds "very soon."

Read moreWhat would Donald Trump ending US aid mean for Palestinians?

On Tuesday, Krähenbühl also made an emergency appeal for over $800 million (€645 million) to provide assistance to 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Gaza, the West Bank and Syria. The UNRWA provides food, water, shelter, medical assistance and educational programs.

"The agency's critical financial crisis following the reduction in US funds threatens our ability to deliver these vital services," Krähenbühl said.

The agency had a budget of over $1 billion last year, with the US contributing one-third of the total. In mid-January, the Trump administration announced that it would only give $60 million this year, coming up far below last year's $360 million.

Read morePalestinian leaders seek to suspend recognition of Israel

Watch video 00:27

US President Donald Trump threatens to withhold more aid to Palestinians

UN decries 'political dimension' of US decision

Trump said that, in order to receive future aid, the UNRWA must undergo certain reforms and Palestinian leaders must keep up US-backed peace negotiations with Israel.

Krähenbühl said the agency had not yet received specifics about the reforms, adding that he believes the US decision was politically motivated and not based on the agency's performance.

Watch video 02:08

UNRWA - part of the entire refugee problem?

"It is very clear that the decision by the United States was not related to our performance," Krähenbühl told The Associated Press. "This has to be part of the debate that took place around Jerusalem."

The Trump administration controversially moved to recognize the city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in early December, sparking protests around the world.

Palestinians, who see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, froze ties with the Trump administration earlier this month, saying Washington could no longer be the main mediator in peace talks.

In his appeal for aid, Krähenbühl underscored the "imperative to preserve and ensure that humanitarian funding is preserved from politicization."

rs/jm (AP, AFP)

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