Germany increases UN contributions for Palestine refugees

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-31 21:16:26|Editor: xuxin
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BERLIN, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Germany's federal government has promised to increase its financial contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), German media reported on Friday.

Media reports cited a letter sent by German foreign minister Heiko Maas (SPD) to his European Union (EU) colleagues in which he wrote that Berlin was willing to make funding available for UNRWA which was "substantially higher" than its previously planned national contribution of 81 million euros (94.4 million U.S. dollars).

Maas noted in the document, however, that the sum would not suffice to make up for a 186-million-euro shortfall which was created when the United States announced last week that it would freeze all of its payments to the agency. As a consequence, he called on other EU member states to help Germany fill the gap in order to preserve the functionality of UNRWA.

The justice minister described the United Nations (UN) organization as a key factor to ensure stability in the Gaza strip in particular, where 1.85 million Palestinians live in an extremely densely-populated area of only 365 sq km, which is cordoned off by the Israeli army. Maas warned that a collapse of UNRWA could provoke an "uncontrollable chain reaction" which would threaten peace in the Near and Middle East.

UNRWA was founded in 1949 and supports more than five million Palestinians living in the autonomous areas of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. Most aid is delivered in the form of nutritional products. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed the relief agency for stalling the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

According to a recent report by the "Washington Post", Trump is planning to drastically reduce the number of Palestinian refugees accepted by the United States in parallel to withdrawing funding which previously accounted for around a third of UNRWA's total budget of 1.1 billion dollars. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has said that Washington would only offer assistance to Palestinians again when they become less critical of the United States.