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Middle East

Macron 'regrets' US scrapping of Unrwa finance

media Palestinian refugee children in an Unrwa school AFP/Ahmad Abdo

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he regrets the US’s decision to scrap its contributions to the UN’s refugee agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa) and promised that France will help it “resolve this crisis”.

Unrwa’s work is “indispensable to local and regional stability”, Macron told UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Granci in a phone call, a statement from the French presidency said on Wednesday.

He “vouched for France’s commitment to contribute to the necessary collective response to help Urwa get out of this crisis and improve its efficacy”, the statement added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration announced at the end of last month that it would stop paying its contribution to Unrwa.

With a contribution of 350 million dollars (300 million euros) in 2017, the US was by far the biggest contributor to the agency, which says it needs 200 million dollars (170 million euros) to maintain its activities, notably running schools and health centres, until the end of the year.

The US has also said it will stop paying 200 million euros of bilateral aid to the Palestinians and closed the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s bureau in Washington, claiming that the Palestinian leadership refuses to join peace negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinians froze contacts with the Trump administration after it recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved its embassy there last year.

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