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EU to resume financial aid to Palestine

European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium May 5, 2021. REUTERS-Yves Herman-File Photo

The European Union office in Jerusalem said that financial aid provided by the EU to the Palestinian Authority will be resumed within weeks.

A spokesman for the European Union office in Jerusalem, Shadi Othman, said the EU will spend in the coming weeks part of the financial pledges to the PA to help pay part of the salaries of public employees.

The EU’s support will now resume following months of suspension.

Othman said that the Palestinian government is facing unprecedented financial difficulties.

This step came following the visit of Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh to several European countries last week.

Shtayyeh’s visit included Brussels, the EU headquarters, Luxembourg, and Scotland.

The EU usually provides €300 million in aid annually, but this has decreased drastically since last year.

In the past weeks, the EU disbursed an essential payment of €92 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which is also suffering from a financial crisis due to the siege imposed by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

The Palestine Liberation Organization and Head of the Refugee Affairs Department Ahmed Abu Houli said that the preparations are ongoing to guarantee the success of the UNRWA donors conference, which is scheduled on Nov. 16 in Brussels.

The UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees announced Friday it was seeking $800 million at a donor conference, according to UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini.

To fund UNRWA’s “three core activities” — education, health, and social services — “we are seeking $800 million a year,” he said.

The funding would allow the agency to keep open the 700 or so schools it managed, catering to 550,000 children, as well as health centers and to provide social welfare to Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

In addition to the $800 million, Lazzarini said there was also a need for funds for the humanitarian aid provided by UNRWA, which varies from one year to the next, depending on the crisis, but which the agency estimates will be around half a million dollars in 2022.

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