On the record in the name of UNRWA Spokesman Sami Mshasha
UNRWA expresses deep regret and disappointment at the United States' announcement that it will no longer provide funding to the Agency after decades of staunch political and financial support. This decision is all the more surprising given that UNRWA and the United States renewed a funding agreement in December 2017 which had acknowledged the successful, dedicated and professional management of the Agency.
We reject in the strongest possible terms the criticism that UNRWA’s schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs are “irredeemably flawed”. These very programs have a proven track record in creating one of the most successful human development processes and results in the Middle East. The international state community, our donors and host countries have consistently praised UNRWA for its achievements and standards. The World Bank described our activities as a “global public good” and recognized us for running one of the most effective school systems in the region, in which students regularly outperform their peers in public schools.
This is a reflection of UNRWA’s steadfast commitment to preserving dignity and opportunities.
The United States itself had consistently been the largest and most generous donor of UNRWA, making a much-valued contribution to UNRWA’s life-saving humanitarian work, including support for ensuring girl’s access to education, high health standards and food assistance for the most vulnerable.
In January 2018, the US had communicated a reduction of $300 M to UNRWA’s budget, providing $60 M compared to $364 M in 2017. Following today’s announcement, UNRWA will pursue with even greater determination and engagement its mobilization of existing partners - 20 of whom have to date contributed more money than in 2017, including countries from the Gulf, Asia and Europe - and of new ones.
We are extremely grateful for the widespread solidarity that our unprecedented situation has generated and the generosity of many donors that has allowed us to open the school year on time for 526’000 girls and boys this very week. This is what UNRWA stands for and as an organ of UN General Assembly, we will continue to provide high-quality services and assistance to over 5.4 M Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.