12 na­tions to step up Pales­tinian aid

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

GENEVA — The head of the U.N. agency for Pales­tinian refugees said Tues­day that Rus­sia, Kuwait and nine Euro­pean coun­tries have agreed to speed up their con­tri­bu­tions to help fill a short­fall left by the U.S.’ de­ci­sion to greatly re­duce cru­cial U.S. fund­ing.

Com­mis­sioner Gen­eral Pierre Kra­hen­buhl of the U.N. Re­lief and Works Agency also said it has re­ceived no specifics about changes sought by the United States, sug­gest­ing politics — no­tably sur­round­ing the U.S. de­ci­sion to rec­og­nize Jerusalem as the Is­raeli cap­i­tal — were at play.

The agency, which serves some 5 mil­lion Pales­tinian refugees and their de­scen­dants, had a bud­get of more than $1 bil­lion last year. This cov­ered long-run­ning pro­grams, in­clud­ing ed­u­ca­tion, as well as emer­gency funds for crises such as the war in Syria.

The U.S. has been the largest donor, giv­ing one-third of the to­tal bud­get. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion with­held half of the first in­stall­ment of pay­ments this year, de­mand­ing changes as a con­di­tion for fu­ture aid.

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