Canada an­nounces C$50mn boost in aid to Pales­tinian refugee agency

Gulf Times - - AMERICAS -

Canada has stepped up aid for Pales­tinian refugees, an­nounc­ing C$50mn ($38mn) for the United Na­tions Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose mis­sion has suf­fered since Wash­ing­ton cut its help.

The Cana­dian top-up comes af­ter the United States, the largest sin­gle con­trib­u­tor to the UNRWA, an­nounced in Au­gust an end to its $350mn a year fund­ing for the agency.

The UNRWA was set up in 1950 to help Pales­tinian refugees who lost their homes be­cause of the 1948 Mid­dle East con­flict.

Its as­sis­tance in­cludes schools, health­care centres, and food dis­tri­bu­tion.

The Cana­dian con­tri­bu­tion is to be spread over two years.

C$40mn will go to “meet­ing the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, health and liveli­hood needs of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees”, Ot­tawa said in a state­ment.

An­other C$10mn will be used to pro­vide “emer­gency life-sav­ing as­sis­tance to more than 460,000 Pales­tinian refugees in Syria and Le­banon”, it said.

In 2016, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s ad­min­is­tra­tion re­versed cuts to Pales­tinian aid by his pre­de­ces­sor.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, as well as Is­rael, op­poses how the agency op­er­ates and how the num­ber of refugees is cal­cu­lated.

More than 750,000 Pales­tini­ans fled or were ex­pelled dur­ing the 1948 war sur­round­ing Is­rael’s cre­ation.

Th­ese Pales­tini­ans and all their de­scen­dants are deemed by the UN agency to be refugees who fall un­der its re­mit.

Canada said it “ex­er­cises en­hanced due dili­gence” for all aid for Pales­tini­ans in­clud­ing “strong anti-ter­ror­ism pro­vi­sions in fund­ing agree­ments”.

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