UN official expresses concerns over UNRWA's fiscal crisis affecting schools

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-01 01:53:51|Editor: yan
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GAZA, June 30 (Xinhua) -- A senior United Nations official expressed on Sunday deep concerns that a financial crisis of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) may influence schools that the agency runs for Palestinian refugees.

Matthias Schmale, UNRWA Operations Director in the Gaza Strip, told reporters in Gaza that the agency may close down some schools, one month after it will open on September, "due to not having enough finance."

He clarified that after UNRWA received a pledge of 110 million U.S. dollars from the donors' meeting held in New York last week. "I believe that this will help finance starting the coming new school year, but still, there is an ongoing risk," Schmale said.

According to Schmale, UNRWA's emergency and basic budget for this year is 1.2 billion U.S. dollars that covers its operations in five geographical areas (Gaza, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria).

"We still have promises and pledges worth 600 million U.S. dollars," said Schmale, adding that UNRWA saved 92 million U.S. dollars of its annual budget throughout cuts in its running costs and expenses.

He went on saying that UNRWA still doesn't provide new jobs in spite of the pressure of the demands for jobs opportunities, adding "we can't provide new jobs because we don't have financial resources to cover their salaries."

The senior UN official affirmed that UNRWA needs 60 million U.S. dollars in order to carry on with providing food aid to poor families in the Gaza Strip "continuously until the end of this year."

He noted that UNRWA hasn't received any additional fund to cover its services such as paying rents to families whose homes were destroyed during the last Israeli offensive in 2014 and haven't been built yet.

Schmali warned that the social and economic situation in the Gaza Strip is getting worse with the ongoing Israeli blockade that had been imposed on the coastal enclave since 2007, where rates of poverty and unemployment are growing.