U.S. aid cut risks collapse of UN Palestinian refugee agency: experts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-01 18:42:54|Editor: Lifang
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RAMALLAH, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to reduce aid to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will make the organization collapse from within, said refugees affairs expert Ahmad Hanoun.

"It is clear that Israel and the United States have a common position on the issue of Palestinian refugees, and the move shows that the United States adopts (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu's demand to dismantle the UNRWA," he said.

The United States seeks to dismantle the UNRWA by financially destroying it, he added.

The United States announced the withholding of 65 million U.S. dollars from its 125-million-dollar grant to the UNRWA. Washington also later suspended 45 million dollars in food aid pledged last month to the agency.

Palestinian refugees in the West Bank have been protesting over the decline in the quality and quantity of services provided by the UNRWA for years.

The UNRWA, on the other hand, has been complaining about a financial crisis for almost a decade, which has led to the shrink of some of its services in the face of a growing number of refugees descendants.

The establishment of the UN relief organization, world's oldest and biggest relief organization, is bound to UN resolution 194, which seeks to resolve the refugees' hope of returning home and to deal with the loss of the displaced people.

Growing up in the Al-Am'ary refugee camp and studying at UNRWA schools, 46-year-old Taha Al-Biss now serves as head of the camp's popular committee. He believed there is a decline in services from the UNRWA.

The U.S. aid cut will drastically affect the UNRWA's services for Palestinian refugees, which are already criticized for "a serious decline in quality and quantity," as a result of the organization's already precautious situation, said Biss.

The U.S. decision came against a political backdrop, where the United States and Israel have been seeking for years to eliminate the UNRWA, he added.

The U.S. intention to dismantle the UN body also has a serious political impact on the Palestinians, as the UNRWA is bound to the resolution of the refugee issue. Eliminating the organization is to eliminate the Palestinian refugees' right of return, which is sacred to the Palestinians, argued Biss.

Palestinians view the issue of refugees, like Jerusalem, as part of the final status negotiations.

Nevertheless, Biss and his colleagues believe that everything possible must be done in order to help the resilience of Palestinian refugees until their political aspirations are fulfilled.

"I am doing my best to provide what is available to families under the poverty line in order to alleviate their suffering inside the camps and secondly, to provide the least pillars of the people's resilience in the camps," he said. "Resilience means provision of some things that allow them to live in dignity."

Al-Am'ary refugee camp is one of the smallest camps in the West Bank city of Ramallah, established in 1949 over an area of 0.093 square km, and is now accommodating nearly 7,000 Palestinian refugees.