JERUSALEM (AP) — The U.N. agency that serves Palestinian refugees and their descendants said Wednesday it would launch a global fundraising appeal in hopes of making up for funding cuts announced by the United States.
The Trump administration on Tuesday suspended $65 million for UNRWA, demanding it undertake a "fundamental re-examination."
The U.S. provides roughly one-third of UNRWA's budget, and the agency has warned that it now faces the "most dramatic financial crisis" in its nearly 70-year history. The agency provides health care, education and social services to 5 million Palestinians across the Middle East.
UNRWA's secretary-general, Pierre Krähenbühl, said the fundraising appeal would begin in the coming days. The agency said it is too soon to say which countries will be approached to fill the void or what services are at risk.
Belgium has already stepped in to help, with an immediate disbursement of $23 million.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said Wednesday that "for a lot of Palestinian refugees, the UNRWA is the last life buoy."
Among the group's projects are helping half a million children get an education and fending off attempts to radicalize them.
De Croo said he was responding to the global fundraising appeal in hopes of making up for funding cuts announced by the United States. The 19 million euros is Belgium's allocation for three years, but De Croo's office said it would be "disbursed immediately."