Britain 'Remains Committed' to Supporting Palestinian Refugees, Will Transfer $70 Million

Britain plans on providing Palestinians 'around £50 million in 2017/18,' its Minister of State for Middle East announces

Palestinians protest outside a UN distribution center in the southern Gaza Strip on January 21, 2018.
Said Khatib/ AFP

The U.K. will continue to support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees as well as Palestinians refugees across the Middle East, Britiain's Alistair Burt stated on Sunday night.

Burt, who is the U.K.'s Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote that his country also intends to provide "around £50 million ($69.5 million) in 2017/18" in order to aid Palestinian refugees.

His statement comes against the backdrop of a recent U.S. decision to significantly slash the aid it transfers to UNRWA. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration announced that it would withhold $65 million from payment it was scheduled to transfer in January to the UN agency after the American president proclaimed that he would halt financial assistance to the Palestinians as long as the Palestinian Authority refuses to enter negotiations with Israel.

"My officials are working closely with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and other European Union partners on how best to ensure continuity of essential services to Palestinian refugees at this time," Burt stated.

He said that Britain was "concerned at the impact on UNRWA's activities whenever unexpected reductions or delays in predicted donor disbursements occur."

"The U.K.," Burt went on to add, "remains firmly committed to supporting UNRWA and Palestinian refugees across the Middle East."

Burt made the statement in response to a query by MP Dan Carden, a shadow minister for international development in the British government.

Last week it was reported that employees of the UN agency already started to feel the brunt of the decision by the Washington, with dozens of teachers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and about 100 workers in 13 refugee camps in Jordan losing their jobs in the aftermath of the announced plans to slash aid.   

Jack Khoury contributed to this report.