UN Palestinian refugee agency launches fundraising campaign following U.S. aid cut

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RAMALLAH,  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) launched Monday a global fundraising campaign after the United States slashed its financial contribution. 
UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said in a press conference in Gaza that the campaign "comes following the drastic reduction of the support provided by the United States to UNRWA." 
"We are facing an unprecedented crisis," Krahenbuhl added. "The U.S. decision is sudden and harmful, but we are determined to continue to contact all donors, including Palestinians abroad to donate for UNRWA." 
Washington said last Tuesday it would withhold about half the initial aid it planned to give UNRWA, two weeks after President Donald Trump questioned the value of such funding. 
The United States is UNWRA's largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of its budget. The agency focuses on providing health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. 
The commissioner stressed that UNRWA services should continue in its five areas of operation until achieving a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue. 
"We assure for all the Palestinian refugees that UNRWA schools and medical services will remain open. This is a big challenge for us, but it is an urgent issue that must be continued," he added. 
"The Palestinian refugees have suffered for 70 years from the absence of their rights because of the absence of a political solution," he said. 
During the conference, Kareem Abu Kwaik, president of UNRWA's central student parliament, gave a speech on behalf of 530,000 students at UNRWA schools, calling for international support for the agency. 
UNRWA, which provides assistance in education, health and food to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in the Middle East, is already suffering from a 49-million U.S. dollars financial deficit and any fund suspension would have a negative impact on its work. Enditem 
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National News Agency, Nepal

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