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US 'cuts UNRWA funding' by more than half

Trump government holds back $65m of planned $125m package, a move that could prove catastrophic for millions in need.

Palestinian refugees

The United States is cutting more than half of its planned funding to the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, a source has aid.

Washington will give the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) $60m in aid for Palestinians but will hold back a further $65m, a source knowledgeable with the matter said on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

For nearly 70 years, UNRWA has been the lifeline to the more than five million registered Palestinian refugees in the occupied territories and neighbouring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan.

It offers support in food supply, access to education, healthcare, social services and employment.

'There will be a revolution'

On January 3, less than a month after prompting Palestinian anger and international outcry for naming Jerusalem as Israel's capital, US President Donald Trump had threatened to cut aid to Palestinians.

"If the services stop, there will be a revolution," Salah Ajarmeh, a Palestinian refugee in Aida camp said  last week.

"Palestinian uprisings began in the refugee camps in Jordan and Syria, and this will happen again."

Read more about what Palestinian refugees had to say about the matter here.

Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, called the US to reverse its decision.

"The move will have devastating consequences for vulnerable Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including hundreds of thousands of refugee children in the West Bank and Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria who depend on the agency for their education," he said in a statement.

"It will also deny their parents a social safety net that helps them to survive, and undermine the UN agency's ability to respond in the event of another flare up in the conflict."

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