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The US announced Friday that it would be making an additional contribution of 60.3 million US dollars to UNRWA’s core budget and special projects in the West Bank Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.

A statement, issued by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, said the donation would provide critical services, including health, to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees. Of this contribution, 5.7 million US dollars will support nine special projects, including reconstruction and rehabilitation of schools in Jordan, Syria, and the West Bank, an afterschool program for refugee children in Lebanon, and a referral system to help refugees facing gender-based violence.

UNRWA currently faces a shortfall of 161 million US dollars, including 91 million US for core expenses such as salaries for teachers educating nearly 500,000 Palestinian refugee children across the region.

The US has provided more than 225 million US dollars to UNRWA in 2010, including 120 million US dollars to its General Fund, 75 million US dollars to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, 20 million US dollars to emergency programs in Lebanon, and 10 million US dollars for the construction of five new schools in Gaza, the statement added.

On 9 June, US President Barack Obama said his government would move forward with a 400 million US dollars to increase clean drinking water, create jobs, build schools, and address critical housing and infrastructure needs in the West Bank and Gaza.

“As UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor, the U.S. recognizes the critical role UNRWA plays in assisting Palestinian refugees and maintaining regional stability and calls upon other donors to enhance their support for UNRWA,” the statement read.

The UN body, set up in the wake of Israel’s mass displacement of Palestinians following the creation of the state in 1948, provides basic services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Facing financial straights, on Tuesday UNRWA announced a regional media campaign will be launched during the holy month of Ramadan to raise funds for UNRWA health and education projects.

Under two agreements signed last Sunday between the agency and the Zain Group and Zain Jordan, the campaign will be aired throughout the Arab world on MBC TV during the holy month of Ramadan to highlight the agency’s services to Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

During the six-week campaign, Zain’s 31 million customers in the region will have the opportunity to send messages to designated numbers and donate funds for UNRWA’s health and education programmes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, according to a Zain statement. Maannews

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