Gaza refugees protest Washington’s UNRWA funding cuts

Demonstrators in Gaza City call on UN to support cash-strapped refugee agency

Gaza refugees protest Washington’s UNRWA funding cuts

Dozens of Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip on Monday staged a protest against a recent U.S. decision to cut all funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.

Organized by a popular committee affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the protest was held outside the UNRWA’s Gaza City office where protesters waved banners calling on the UN to support the cash-strapped refugee agency.

“We affirm our categorical rejection of the so-called ‘deal of the century’, which [U.S. President Donald] Trump sanctified with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital,” popular committee spokesman Zeyad al-Sarfandi said at Monday’s protest.

“We also call on the international community to redouble its efforts to help UNRWA by providing it with a fixed budget so it can continue providing Palestinian refugees with vital services,” al-Sarfandi said.

On August 31, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would “no longer commit funding” to the UNRWA. 

The U.S. had been UNRWA's largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million annually -- roughly a quarter of the agency's overall budget. 

Established in 1949, UNRWA provides critical aid to Palestinian refugees in the blockaded Gaza Strip, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

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