“I Live On Food Aid”; Millions Of People Could Be Hit After Trump Cuts Half Of Aid For Palestinian Refugees
Donald Trump administration is withholding $65 million it planned to send to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, a move that could prove catastrophic for millions of Palestinians in need.

The US government cut half of the aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNWRA), $65m out of a $125m. The cut in funding for the UN agency which goes for healthcare, education and other social services, could put vital health, educational and food services at risk, its chief said on Wednesday, adding he would appeal for world donations.

The agency funds schools and health clinics that serve nearly two million people in Lebanon, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As funding declined recently, the agency began significant layoffs of teachers and health workers, many of them refugees themselves.

“I live on food aid,” said Bassam Inshasi, a father of seven. “The situation is already difficult and it will become more difficult.”

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The US State Department said on Tuesday it would provide $60 million to the UN Relief and Welfare Agency while keeping back a further $65 million “for future consideration.”. The Department said UNRWA needed to make unspecified reforms.

Those funds are “frozen for future consideration”, Heather Nauert, State Department spokeswoman said. She refused to comment when asked if the funding shortfall was linked to President Trump’s threat on Jan.

President Trump had threatened on January 3 to cut aid to Palestinians. He tweeted: “… We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.”

“They don’t even want to negotiate a long overdue peace treaty with Israel…(W)with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” he added.

Recently, the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley also said: “The United States will remember this day in which it was singled out for the attack in the General Assembly for the very act of exercising our right as a sovereign nation.”

Read More: After Trump’s Announcement, Israel Decides To Build 14,000 New Settlement Units In Occupied Jerusalem

The PA responded to Trump’s move, accusing Washington of “complicity with the Israeli occupation by attempting to remove another permanent status issue off the table.”

Hanan Ashrawi, Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee member blasted the Trump administration’s aid freeze, saying:

“it’s following Netanyahu’s instructions to gradually dismantle the one agency that was established by the international community to protect the rights of the Palestinian refugees and provide them with essential services.”

“It is also creating conditions that will generate further instability throughout the region and will demonstrate that it has no compunction in targeting the innocent. Once again the US Administration proves its complicity with the Israeli occupation.”

Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, told the reporters on Tuesday that if the agency is not in a position to provide “vital services” and emergency support it will create a “very very serious problem,”. He said the relief agency’s services were of “extreme importance” to the populations of Palestinians who had lived as refugees for 70 years.

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