US cuts in Palestinian refugee aid mitigated by new pledges

DEAD SEA, Jordan (AP) — The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says it has nearly closed its funding gap after securing new donor pledges to make up for U.S. aid cuts.

Pierre Kraehenbuehl, the head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, said Monday that the shortfall was reduced from $446 million to $21 million, singling out donors from Europe and the Gulf.

He says the agency no longer faces the “critical situation” created by a U.S. decision earlier this year to cut nearly $300 million of aid.

The agency provides health care, education and social services to 5.4 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The agency was created after the mass displacement of Palestinians during the 1948 war over Israel’s creation.

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