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Ex-UN envoys urge US to restore the Palestinian funds

WASHINGTON – Seven former Us ambassadors to the United Nations an appeal on the Trump administration Monday to restore the funding of the U. N. agency that helps Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

In a letter to Secretary Mike Pompeo, the ex-ambassadors of both Republican and Democratic administrations, said withholding funds from the U. N. Relief and Works Agency national security, the consequences for the AMERICAN partners in the region, including Israel and Jordan.

The agency is faced with a large deficit in the budget as a result of the suspension of AMERICAN aid. The U. N. says UNWRA needs of $250 million, without which it will be forced to severely curtail programs to provide basic services — from food aid and medical care to sanitation for 5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“This financial gap puts into question the ability of the UNRWA to continue to provide education and health care for millions of people, and has national security implications for our closest allies, including Israel and Jordan,” the former ambassadors said in the letter, which was sent to the current U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley.

“We urge you to restore U.S. funding to help fill this gap,” said the envoys, who include Thomas Pickering, Edward Perkins, who served under President George H. W. Bush; Madeleine Albright and Bill Richardson, who served under President Bill Clinton, John Negroponte, who served under President George W. Bush; and Susan Rice and Samantha Power, who served under President Barack Obama.

The US has in the past, is the top donor to the agency, and last year’s $364 million. But earlier this year, the Trump administration announced that it was withholding more than half of the first installment of $125 million. The rest of that, together with additional payments, hold until the agency implements structural reforms.

UNWRA director Pierre Krahenbuhl said he was in an emergency donors ‘ conference last week that the U.S. budget cuts, along with other deficits are in danger of food assistance in Gaza and medical clinics, spread across the five areas, while approximately 500,000 children are unable to begin the school year.

The agency was founded after the civil war that followed the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, approximately 700,000 Palestinians who live there, either on the flight or forced out of their homes. The UNRWA is now faced with the worst crisis in nearly seven decades, according to Krahenbuhl.

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