Copy of 2021-11-10T124912Z_37134712_RC28QQ9OZ2KD_RTRMADP_3_JORDAN-UNRWA-PROTEST-1637152137294
UNRWA employees take part in a sit-in demonstration, according to them against anticipated austerity measures within the organisation, in Amman, Jordan November 8, 2021. Image Credit: REUTERS

Brussels: The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, fell well short Tuesday of its target to plug a $100-million gap this year and secure full long-term funding despite fresh pledges from donors.

UNRWA warned it was facing an “existential” threat as it urged the international community to commit to more stable financing at a conference in Brussels, insisting it needs to find $800 million a year going forward.

In the short-term, the agency was scrambling to cover a shortfall of $100 million for the final months of this year after warning it faced having to shut down some of its activities

A statement said donors committed an extra $38 million for this year - leaving the agency still $60 million short.

“So we are making progress. But we still need support to cover all services and salaries for November and December,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said.

He warned that financing gaps posed a threat of a “truly existential nature” to the agency that provides social welfare to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

“I had to raise the alarm because if we do not find real solution now and for the future, the institution is on the edge of a collapse,” Lazzarini said.

“We are struggling today already to feed our stock of medicine and to pay bills and our staff has to deal with frozen benefits and delayed salaries.”

Going forward, the agency said donors had vowed $614 million in new or renewed multi-year agreements with just 40 per cent of the agency’s core budget covered for next year.

“Our operations require a minimum of $800 million a year. It is not possible to operate with less than that,” Lazzarini said.

UNRWA, which has a staff of 28,000, provides assistance to more than five million Palestinians registered with it in the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Lebanon.