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Seventy years on, UN relief for Palestinian refugees hits crisis point

The UNRWA marks its 70th anniversary offering relief services to Palestinian refugees.
The UNRWA marks its 70th anniversary offering relief services to Palestinian refugees. FRANCE 24 screen grab.

Seventy years ago the United Nations created an agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees, hundreds of thousands of whom began living in camps, following the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Funded by the UN member states, its biggest donor was once the United States. But since the US stopped contributions in 2018, the UNRWA has been facing its worst financial crisis to date. 

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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been active in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where it has helped more than five million Palestinian refugees by offering social services and assistance, including the creation of schools, hospitals and jobs. 

As the agency marks its 70th anniversary it also faces its biggest threat to relief services, a consequence of the suspension of all US funding to the UNRWA. The decision came shortly after President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and transferred the US embassy there. For its part, the Palestinian leadership has responded by severing contacts with Washington. How the agency might make up the shortfall in contributions remains uncertain.

Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24's special report on the crisis that threatens to undermine the work of the UNRWA.

 

 

 

 

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