UN Palestinian agency doesn't know what reforms U.S. wants, says chief


The United States has not given any indication of what reforms it would like to see in the UN's Palestinian refugee agency before it decides to unfreeze 65 million dollars in funding, the head of the UNRWA said on Monday.  

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said the U.S. has been a "generous and consistent contributor" for decades and the U.S. support for the agency's role was "very firmly expressed to me" in meetings in Washington in November.

"UNRWA is a very reform-minded agency," Krahenbuhl said, but he had "not received any specific indication at this point from the U.S. administration about specific reform-related questions."   

"I must tell you I am absolutely clear in my mind that the decision that was taken in funding terms was not related to our performance," Krahenbuhl said, speaking to reporters in New York via videolink from Amman, Jordan.

Last week the U.S. earmarked 60 million dollars for the agency for 2018, saying that it plans to withhold 65 million dollars.  

Those funds are "frozen for future consideration," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters.  

The U.S. was the largest single donor to UNRWA, contributing more than 350 million dollars to the agency in 2017, Krahenbuhl said.  

UNRWA supports some 5 million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. During the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, more than 700,000 Palestinians were displaced or forced to flee. UNRWA also supports their descendants.  

The agency has now started an appeal to try to replace the lost funds.    (dpa)

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