UN extends Palestinian refugee mission until 2023

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Palestinian schoolgirls walk past a United Nations aid truck transporting sacks of flour outside a UN compound in the southern Gaza Strip refugee camp of Rafah, on November 17, 2019 -AFP

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES — The United Nations extended the work of its Palestinian refugee agency for another three years on Friday, despite fierce opposition from the United States and Israel.

The current mandate was due to run out in June 2020 but 169 countries approved a renewal up to 2023 at the UN General Assembly, with the Americans and Israelis voting against and nine countries abstaining.

The resolution approved on Friday "all donors to continue to strengthen their efforts to meet the anticipated needs of the agency" amid deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the Palestinian Territories.

US President Donald Trump's administration, along with Israel, accuses UNRWA of perpetuating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The agency disputes that and says the services it provides would otherwise not be available to Palestinians.

The head of the troubled organization resigned in November amid an internal probe into alleged mismanagement and ethical abuses.

An internal ethics report has alleged mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of the agency, which has also faced a financial crisis after the United States suspended and later cut all its funding in 2018.

UNRWA was set up after more than 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their lands during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of Israel.

It provides schooling and medical services to millions of impoverished refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria as well as the Palestinian territories, and employs around 30,000 people, mostly Palestinians. -AFP


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