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'UNRWA or nothing': Palestinians in Lebanon brace for the worst

Palestinians in Lebanon have already begun to feel the consequences of funding cuts in schools and hospitals as a result of the United States halting contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Palestinian students are seen at UNRWA school in Beirut, Lebanon September 3, 2018. REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir - RC1FB53825F0

BEIRUT — In remarks to reporters on Sept. 3, Lebanon’s caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil denounced the US decision to halt all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), stating that keeping the agency funded was a “matter of life or death.” For the majority of Palestinians in Lebanon, who have long relied on UNRWA’s delivery of essential services, Bassil’s claim is not much of an exaggeration.

“Historically, we have funding problems,” Fadi el-Tayyar, UNRWA’s public information officer in Lebanon, told Al-Monitor. “This is huge. This is one of the unprecedented crises.”

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