Palestinian groups urge UNRWA operations chief to leave

US withheld last month $65 million in aid to Palestinians

By Lubaba Thuqan

RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) - Palestinian groups on Sunday called for the departure of The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) operations director in the West Bank.

In a statement, several groups, including the Popular Committees in the Refugee Camps and the Palestinian National Action Factions, said they would submit a letter to UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl calling for the departure of Scott Anderson and his American team in protest of recent U.S. funding cuts.

"The reduction of aid to the UN agency aims to liquidate the refugees issue," the statement said.

Last month, the U.S. State Department said it was withholding $65 million in aid to the Palestinians "until further consideration".

The Palestinian groups called on the government "to assume its national responsibilities towards the Palestinian refugee camps and refugee communities and respond quickly to their requirements".

UNRWA provides services to some 5.9 million Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The total U.S. contribution to the UN refugee agency in 2017 was more than $350 million.

The U.S. funding cuts came one month after U.S. President Donald Trump sparked a world outcry by officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

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