​UN agency warns of food shortages for Palestinians after U.S. aid cut

U.S. cuts in aid have put in doubt food deliveries for the coming months, a head of the UN agency responsible for Palestinians said on Friday.

“Right now, I do not actually know whether I can order enough food for the second quarter in April to June, because there is not enough money,” UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees Gaza chief, Matthias Schmale, told Bavarian radio broadcaster Bayerische Rundfunk.

A reduction in food supplies for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, whose border points are tightly controlled by Israeli and Egyptian authorities, would have “catastrophic effects,” Schmale said.

UNRWA supports about one million people in the coastal strip with food provisions, and also runs 267 schools and 21 health facilities.

Earlier this month, Washington announced that it would freeze 65 million dollars in funding to the UNRWA unless the Palestinians return to the negotiating table with the Israelis.

Palestinian leaders have strongly rejected the U.S. as a mediator between them and the Israelis since President Donald Trump decided to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

“The first problem is that the U.S. government has for the first time … linked politics with humanitarian aid, and that is unacceptable for us and the people of the Gaza Strip,” Schmale said in the radio interview.

UNRWA was formed in 1949 and supports a total of some five million Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, many of whose families fled during the conflict that followed Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948. 

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