UNRWA Chief Fires Back At US: “Millions Of Palestinians Cannot Simply Be Wished Away”
The US attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is “disingenuous at best.”

The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that helps Palestinian refugees has hit back at the Trump administration’s aid cutoff, saying that millions of Palestinian refugees “cannot simply be wished away.”

In an open letter to Palestinian refugees and the agency’s staff, Pierre Krahenbuhl, commissioner general of UNRWA rejected US criticism that the agency’s work only perpetuates the Palestinian refugees’ plight, noted that the attempt to make UNRWA somehow responsible for perpetuating the crisis is “disingenuous at best.”

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert criticised UNRWA on Friday over its “endlessly and exponentially expanding community of entitled beneficiaries.”

“I express deep regret and disappointment at the nature of the US decision,” Krahenbuhl shots back.

“No matter how often attempts are made to minimize or delegitimize the individual and collective experiences of Palestine refugees, the undeniable fact remains that they have rights under international law and represent a community of 5.4 million men, women and children who cannot simply be wished away,” he said.

Read More: “I Live On Food Aid”; Millions Of People Could Be Hit After Trump Cuts Half Of Aid For Palestinian Refugees

Krahenbuhl said the US’ aid cutoff was obviously related to the tensions between the Trump administration and the Palestinian’s authority following the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and not to UNRWA’s performance.

The US decision, Krahenbuhl said, will not “modify or impact the energy and passion with which we approach our role and responsibility towards Palestine refugees. It will only strengthen our resolve.”

UNRWA has provided health care, education and social services to about 5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon after the 1948 war that led to Israel’s creation.

“I say again to all Palestine refugees” the UNRWA’s head concluded, “we will not fail you. Our partnership with you is stronger than ever. Your Dignity is Priceless.”

On Monday, Krahenbuhl told The Washington Post that the US decision to end all funding to UNRWA was made for “political reasons” as part of the tensions between the “US and Palestinian Authority” and there is nothing that the agency can do about this.

He said although the situation “remains critical”, he hopes other donor countries would compensate a $200 million shortfall.

“I hope we will overcome the remaining $200 million debt,” Krahenbuhl said.

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