Spain to double aid to UN's Palestinian refugee agency
MADRID, Sept. 4 (Xinhua) -- Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell confirmed on Tuesday that Spain will double its aid to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in the wake of the decision taken by the U.S. government to end its contributions to the organization which was created in 1949.
Borrell made his announcement after meeting Riyad al-Maliki, Palestinian foreign minister, who is currently visiting Spain.
Borrell admitted that the decision to increase Spain's contribution to UNRWA from one million to two million euros a year was "a symbolic gesture," which would be confirmed during Friday's cabinet meeting.
"It is a substantial increase, although it falls a long way short of replacing the funds that the United States have cut," commented the minister.
The announcement comes just two days after the Spanish government issued a communiqué lamenting the "serious decision" taken by the United States to end contributing to UNRWA.
The United States has contributed 60 million dollars this year, already a sharp reduction from the 65 million dollars donated in 2017.
The communiqué rejected the U.S. accusation that the UNWRA was corrupt, saying that, "during its almost 70 years of existence in conditions of extreme difficulty, the UNRWA has loyally fulfilled its mandate of giving emergency social aid to the refugee Palestinian population."
The Spanish government believes the American decision "seriously threatens the continuity of special programs in questions of health, education and food, which directly benefit Palestinian refugees in the Middle East" and adds that "the suppression of basic services to 3 million Palestinian refugees could have serious consequences for the stability of the region; especially in the Gaza strip."