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Palestinian relief agency head deplores ‘short-sighted’ calls for closure

UN INVESTIGATION

Lazzarini has held extensive consultations with donors, including a trip to Gulf countries and Brussels, in recent days in a bid to plug UNRWA’s funding shortfall of some US$440 million.

Some donors, such as the United States and Britain, have indicated they will not resume support until the UN’s internal investigation into the allegations ends. A preliminary report is due to be published in the next several weeks.

“We will keep closely in touch with the progress of that investigation, and that will inform our decision,” Leo Docherty, a British junior foreign office minister, told Britain’s parliament on Tuesday.

A French diplomatic source said Paris was trying to get European Union partners to reverse their decisions to suspend funding, saying there was no alternative to UNRWA.

“We have full confidence in this United Nations agency which for us plays a crucial role for the Palestinian populations, but we will also be extremely serious in the examination which will be carried out by UNRWA itself of the situation of the agents who were implicated,” French foreign ministry deputy spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said.

UNRWA spokesperson Juliette Touma said that so far donors had not reversed their decision to pause funding, which might force difficult decisions in late February.

“The loss is as it was – half of our operational budget. So the question is where will we be in a couple of weeks and what decisions are we forced to make – what will we have to close, what will we have to shut down?” she said.

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