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UNRWA on quest for half a billion in funding at Rome conference

UNRWA on quest for half a billion in funding at Rome conference

The UK is supporting the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to help educate 500,000 children and provide health services for 3 million Palestinian refugees, including those affected by the brutal conflict in Syria.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who co-hosted the meeting with Jordan and Sweden, was hopeful the USA would continue to support the agency and the creation of a viable Palestinian state that can care for its own people.

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. They are the refugees or descendants of the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who either fled or were forced from their homes during the war that led to Israel's establishment in 1948.

The US had been UNWRA's largest donor, supplying almost 30 percent of its budget.

Similarly, Ayman Safadi, Jordan's foreign minister noted that delivering vital services to Palestinian refugees is an "international, political, legal, ethical and humanitarian responsibility".

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Shoukry said the agency had already streamlined some of its activities but said "there is a limit to its ability to do so" given the enormous needs faced by 5 million people.

The aim of the event was to stimulate a response by the global community "to ensure UNRWA's unprecedented funding crisis of 446 million US dollars is urgently solved".

The agency's commissioner-general, Pierre Krahenbehl, said in a Twitter post "Palestine Refugees deserve recognition of their rights & stable delivery of UNRWA services".

"We send a message to Washington and to Israel that the Palestinian refugee issue will be maintained, and the refugees will defend their cause with their lives and bodies until they are able to return", UNRWA official Fathi Sabah said at the rally.