WASHINGTON: The United States announced it was halting funding for the United Nations’ agency for Palestinian refugees after declaring the organization was “irredeemably flawed.
Washington has long been the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) largest donor but is “no longer willing to shoulder the very disproportionate share of the burden,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.
Nauert said there would be no additional contributions beyond a $60 million dollar payment made in January, drawing condemnation from both the Palestinians and UNRWA.
“The United States will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,” Nauert added.
There have been widespread warnings about the impact of a halt to funding from the US, which contributed $350 million to UNRWA’s budget last year.
“We reject and condemn this American decision in its entirety,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a statement, calling on all countries “to reject this decision and to provide all possible support” to UNRWA.
UNRWA also slammed the US decision, dismissing Nauert’s characterization of the agency.
UNRWA “expresses deep regret and disappointment at the US’ announcement that it will no longer provide funding to the Agency after decades of staunch political and financial support,” spokesman Chris Gunness wrote on Twitter.