UK pledges extra £7m to UN body helping Palestinian refugees after US withdrawal
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UK pledges extra £7m to UN body helping Palestinian refugees after US withdrawal

Middle East Minister Alistair Burt says the government understood American concerns but they 'don't believe the way they went about it is correct'

Alistair Burt
Alistair Burt

Ministers have pledged to give an additional £7 million to a UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees and their descendants, days after the US decided to end its support.

Alistair Burt said the Government understood the concerns of the American administration in its decision to withdraw backing for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

But he told the Commons: “We don’t believe that the way they have gone about it is correct.”

The Middle East Minister announced the funding increase in answer to a question from Labour’s Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) during Foreign Office questions.

Mr Pennycook said: “In response to the cruel decision taken by the Trump administration to cut US funding for UNRWA, the German government has pledged to increase its financial support for the agency.

“Will the Minister commit his Government to doing the same so that Palestinian refugees don’t suffer as a result of the president’s decision?”

Mr Burt replied: “I’m pleased to announce to (Mr Pennycook) and the House that we have taken the decision today to increase funding to UNRWA by a further £7 million.

“I spoke just a couple of hours ago to Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl to express our support for UNRWA.

“We understand the concerns of the United States but we don’t believe that the way they have gone about it is correct.

“We will continue to support the most vulnerable because again that forms a vital part of a just solution to the issues between the Palestinians and Israel.”

The US supplied nearly 30% of the total budget of UNRWA and had been demanding reforms in the way it is run.

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