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Home >> World
UPDATED: 10:24, June 20, 2006
UN agency urges int'l community to restore aid to Palestinians
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Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Karen Koning Abu Zayd urged the international community on Monday to restore aid to the Palestinians.

During a meeting held in the Jordanian capital Amman, Abu Zayd said that the deepening financial crisis on the Palestinian territories had increased the financial burden on the UN relief agency.

"The difficult situation in the Palestinian lands and the Israeli sealing have increased the financial burden on UNRWA, particularly when UNRWA begins receiving aid requests from Palestinians who have been unable to receive their salaries," she said.

In addition, Abu Zayd said that the UN agency was facing grave financial challenges, with the budget deficit hitting 100 million U.S. dollars.

"UNRWA's financial difficulties will affect the level of service it can provide to the Palestinian refugees," she warned.

The Quartet Committee, grouping key Mideast peace mediators of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia agreed on Saturday on a new mechanism to renew some aid to the Palestinians by early July.

The money is to bypass the Hamas-led Palestinian government and will be used to cover Palestinian health and utilities costs.

Key donors including the United States and the European Union have demanded Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and abide by previous Palestinian-Israeli deals if the overall aid is to resume, but Hamas, or the Islamic Resistance Movement, has so far refused to heed the calls.

Israel has also halted the monthly transfer of about 55 million U.S. dollars of tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians since Hamas' sweeping election victory.

The Jewish state has also stepped up security control along the border with the Gaza Strip, citing concerns for possible attacks.

The Hamas-led Palestinian government has been unable to pay most of the 165,000 civil servants and security soldiers since March although about 40,000 government employees received one month's salary earlier this month.

A large portion of the Palestinian families depend on government salaries or financial support.

UNRWA is a relief and human development agency, providing education, healthcare, social services and emergency aid to over 4. 3 million Palestinian refugees living in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The agency is by far the largest UN operation in the Middle East, with over 27,000 staff, almost all of them refugees themselves, working directly to benefit their communities-- as teachers, doctors, nurses or social workers.

Source: Xinhua

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