Scientists and scholars from around the world published a letter of support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the Lancet, one of the foremost medical journals in the world, urging support for the Agency after the United States has decided to end its contribution to it.
In the letter published on Tuesday, 159 scientist and scholars described the crisis facing UNRWA as “unprecedented,” warning of “a ruinous multifaceted emergency” if no action is taken to the help the humanitarian agency.
“The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides life-saving humanitarian aid for 5•4 million Palestine refugees now entering their eighth decade of statelessness and conflict. About a third of Palestine refugees still live in 58 recognized camps. UNRWA operates 702 schools and 144 health centers, some of which are affected by the ongoing humanitarian disasters in Syria and the Gaza Strip. It has dramatically reduced the prevalence of infectious diseases, mortality, and illiteracy. Its social services include rebuilding infrastructure and homes that have been destroyed by conflict and providing cash assistance and micro-finance loans for Palestinians whose rights are curtailed and who are denied the right of return to their homeland,” said the letter.
“Yet UNRWA is now fighting for survival. On Aug 31, 2018, the Trump Administration confirmed that the USA, previously UNRWA’s largest donor, will no longer fund UNRWA. Funding crises are not new to UNRWA. This crisis, however, is unprecedented.
“An abrupt cessation of UNRWA services will create humanitarian emergencies that will burden host countries that are already overburdened. It will exacerbate existing conflicts, disrupt fragile peace, create new displacement, and generate disaffection and anger,” said the scholar and scientists from Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and many other countries.
“If action is not taken, governments will be giving the green light to a ruinous multifaceted emergency, one the region simply cannot bear. We, scientists and scholars, urge our governments to support UNRWA now, sustaining UNRWA services and thereby averting further loss of life, dignity, and hope,” concluded the scientists and scholars.