Middle East Monitor / December 11, 2019
After having temporarily suspended a contribution of $14 million, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands has informed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) of its decision to resume funding to the agency.
An internal report, alleging sexual misconduct and corruption among the agency’s top officials, was leaked to the press. It included accusations against UNRWA’s management of “nepotism, retaliation, discrimination and other abuses of authority, for personal gain, to suppress legitimate dissent, and to otherwise achieve their personal objectives, jeopardising the credibility and interests of the agency.”
The sharp reduction in funding has had a direct impact on the situation of Palestinians in refugee camps, in particular.
In August 2018, the US suddenly announced it would cut all funding to the organisation. Until then, the US had been its top donor, with an annual contribution of $360 million.
Since the US withdrawal from the agency, widespread reports have emerged of worsening conditions in the camps scattered throughout Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon and Jordan, and the UN organisation continues to struggle financially amid the ongoing campaign against it, seeking urgent funds to maintain its work.
Marc Lassouaoui, chief of donor relations in UNRWA’s Department of External Relations and Communications, announced: “We welcome the decision by the Netherlands to unlock funds that will help UNRWA at an exceptionally challenging period of its existence.”
“The amount that we will receive will help the agency continue to provide critical humanitarian services and operations for the remainder of 2019 in the areas of primary health care, education and social services across its five fields of operations.”
In addition, the Netherlands agreed to provide a further $6.65 million (€6 million) for 2019, bringing the total amount of Dutch funding to UNRWA’s core budget in 2019 to $21 million (€19 million).
According to the organisation’s press release, the multiyear agreement covers the period of 2019 -2021, and promises to make unearmarked annual contributions of $13 million, to support the agency’s program budget.
Last month, the UN voted to extend UNRWA’s mandate until 2023. The vote was 170-2, with only Israel and the US voting against it. The second stage of approval is expected to occur on Friday, at the UN General Assembly.