The world "must not abandon" the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) as it grapples with a major blow to its funding stream, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.
The U.N. held a conference to raise money for basic services – from food assistance and medical care to sanitation – for 5 million refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. After the session, the United Nations was still tallying how much was pledged by which countries against this year's shortfall of $250 million facing UNRWA, which leads the relief efforts. "We must do everything possible to ensure that food continues to arrive, that schools remain open and that people do not lose hope," Guterres said at a pledging conference for UNRWA, according to Anadolu Agency (AA). "Across the region, millions of Palestine refugees are counting on us to relieve their suffering and to help them build a better future. They are counting on us for action now. I urge all of you to join together to close UNRWA's funding gap," Guterres added.
In Gaza, nearly 2 million men, women and children are already experiencing extreme shortages of water and electricity amid tensions that have worsened between the Palestinians and Israel since President Donald Trump opened a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. His administration announced in January that it was withholding $65 million of a planned $125 million funding installment for the relief agency. At the time, Trump tweeted that he saw no reason to spend so much American money in return for what he called "no appreciation or respect" from Palestinians.