The organization provides food, education, and health care for nearly 5 million refugees.
President Donald Trump is planning to cut all US funding to the United Nations program that administers aid to millions of Palestinian refugees, multiple outlets reported on Friday, alarming the international community and potentially putting the program itself at risk.
The cuts would come amid a general push from the Trump administration to reduce foreign aid and assistance to other countries, and are reportedly intended to pressure Palestinian politicians into making concessions ahead of a US-sponsored Middle East peace plan.
“What we’re seeing right now is a capricious move that has a very high risk of unsettling the region,” R. David Harden, a former official at the United States Agency for International Development who resigned in April, told the New York Times.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) was formed one year after the creation of the state of Israel in 1949. It provides health care, food, and education services to nearly 5 million Palestinian refugees spread out across the Middle East.
The US is the largest single donor to the UN agency, responsible for providing about $350 million each year — a quarter of its annual budget.
Trump administration officials have openly criticized the agency in recent days. “I think it is long overdue that we have taken steps to reduce funding,” US National Security Adviser John Bolton told Reuters last week, calling it a “failed mechanism.”
And Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, criticized US support of UNRWA on Tuesday. “First of all, you’re looking at the fact that, yes, there’s an endless number of