Palestinian refugee agency warns of Uncertainty amid crisis

BEIRUT — The U.N. bureau for Palestinian refugees is undergoing a fiscal crisis that could induce it to stop some solutions to an already displaced population of over 5 million individuals, the head of the bureau said Wednesday.

Philippe Lazzarini also cautioned in an interview with The Associated Press in Beirut the spread of coronavirus, an economic collapse in Lebanon along with a massive shortage in UNRWA’s funding are deepening the hopelessness among Palestinian refugees, several whom are attempting to flee the Mediterranean country on migrant ships.

UNRWA’s fiscal crisis was triggered by the reduction of funding from the USA, its biggest donor, in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump stated in January 2018 the Palestinians have to return to peace talks with Israel to get U.S. aid cash. He’s put forth a strategy for solving the conflict which favors Israel and has been refused by the Palestinians.

“I do believe that quitting our action in a circumstance where there’s such a degree of grief, such a degree of despair, can only fuel the sense that the refugees are left by the global community,” explained Lazzarini, who took office in March.

Lazzarini said encouraging UNRWA” is among the greatest investments in equilibrium in the area at a time of exceptional unpredictability and volatility”

“We can’t allow the situation to get worse at an extremely volatile area,” he explained.

The Swiss humanitarian specialist said UNRWA is facing an estimated shortfall of roughly $200 million between now and the end of 2020 when the agency would like to maintain each of the services in its five areas of operations, such as schools, health facilities, and societal welfare.

Lazzarini stated that the coronavirus is having”a massive financial and economic impact on our donor base.” He explained most donor nations are in recession in a time when Palestinians desire more help due to the pandemic and assorted lockdowns.

UNRWA has enrolled 6,876 confirmed cases among Palestinian refugees, the majority of them at the West Bank, in which some 5,000 cases are detected. Lebanon, which hosts thousands of Palestinians, enrolled 430 instances in refugee camps.

“We have individuals being increasingly more in grief expecting UNRWA to provide more services, in some time UNRWA is currently experiencing fiscal catastrophe,” Lazzarini said. “It makes it much more difficult to mobilize the required resources.”

Aoun called for the return of Palestinians who fled Lebanon in the last couple of years by Syria’s civil war.

The U.N. official stated he met with Palestinians from refugee camps throughout his trip to Lebanon who talked in their hardships amid the nation’s worst economic and fiscal crisis in years. Lebanon’s local currency has dropped 80% of its worth, wiping off the life savings of Lebanese and Palestinians alike.

“There’s a very deep sense of despair and hopelessness today in the camps,” he stated, adding that some households are forced to cut back on food purchases.

“I feel that grief and despair in circumstances similar to this one can result in violence and also into uncertainty,” he explained.