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Report: US Freezes $125 Million Funds to UNRWA

Report: US Freezes $125 Million Funds to UNRWA

Saturday, 6 January, 2018 - 09:00
A displaced Palestinian girl squeezes out water from laundry at the Abu Hussien United Nations school in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

The United States has frozen $125 million in funding for the UN agency that provides aid to Palestinian refugees, Axios news site reported on Friday, but a State Department official denied a decision had been made on the payment.

Days after President Donald Trump threatened to withhold future aid payments to Palestinians, Axios said the funding was frozen until the US government finishes its review of aid to the Palestinian Authority.

The sum, a third of the annual US donation to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), was supposed to be delivered by Jan. 1, Axios said, citing three unidentified Western diplomats.

Washington is the largest donor to the agency, with a pledge of nearly $370 million as of 2016, according to UNRWA’s website.

But the State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "That (Axios) story is very misleading. Just because they were expecting the money on the first, and they did not get it at that time, does not mean it was suspended or canceled. Deliberations are ongoing, and we have until mid-January to make a final decision."

Asked if any preliminary decision had been made, the official replied: "No. And reports to that effect are false."

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said the agency had not been "informed directly of a formal decision either way by the US administration."

Trump said on Twitter earlier this week that he would withhold money from the Palestinians, accusing them of being “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel.

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