Rome conference aiming to make up US funding cuts to UN Palestinian aid agency nets $100 million


(JTA) — Cuts to the U.N. agency that assists the Palestinians could push many to “radicalization,” the head of the United Nations told an emergency funding conference in Rome.

The conference on Thursday was gathered to address how to deal with the tens of millions of dollars in cuts by the Trump administration to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, the preeminent relief provider in Gaza. Jordan, Egypt and Sweden sponsored the meeting.

Nearly $100 million in new funding was pledged on Thursday from countries including Qatar, Canada, Switzerland, Turkey, New Zealand, Norway, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, India and France.

The announced cuts were $65 million, with the U.S. transferring $60 million this year to the agency — the agency was expecting $365 million. The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor and makes up about 30 percent of its budget.


U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the conference that cuts to assistance in areas such as sanitation, health care and medical services “would have severe impacts — a cascade of problems that could push the suffering in disastrous and unpredictable directions.”

Guterres also tweeted: “Supporting UNRWA is not only a matter of human solidarity with Palestine refugees, it is an investment in peace. #DignityIsPriceless.”

The Rome meeting comes days after a Gaza aid conference convened at the White House brought together nearly two dozen countries and international organizations. UNRWA was not invited since the meeting was aimed at donors and countries in the region, a Trump administration official said.

The Palestinian Authority, the international representative of the Palestinians, boycotted the conference over the Trump administration’s recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Gaza is controlled by Hamas, which is designated by the State Department as a terrorist organization.

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