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Chris Gunness

  • Addressing the root of the Palestinian refugee problem

    Cash shortages at UNRWA distract from the wider issue: it is the lack of a diplomatic solution, not funding, that leaves Palestinian refugees vulnerable. In the end, it was the catastrophe that wasn’t. For a nervy few weeks it seemed a severe funding shortage would delay the school year for half a million children reliant on the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). Then, a predictable last-minute rush of donations closed the gap and Palestinian refugee children went back to school across the Middle East. The reasons for the funding shortage seemed clear: deepening crises across the Middle East, in particular the Syrian…

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  • UNRWA funding crisis puts 500k Palestinian children at risk

    A budget deficit of $101 million threatens to delay the start of the academic year in UNRWA schools. At a time of rising extremism, such an outcome could have consequences for states across the Middle East, the agency says. UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, is facing a budget deficit of $101 million for the coming year, the agency says. The shortfall threatens to delay the start of the academic year for UNRWA-run schools. At risk, too, are psychosocial support programs that are administered within UNRWA schools (those offered in health centers will continue to run). The scale…

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  • 129 Palestinians, 3 Israeli soldiers killed; U.S. approves Israeli request for ammunition

    Wednesday saw a particularly deadly day of violence in the Gaza Strip, while diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with urgency.  According to officials at the Palestinian Health Ministry, 129 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in Gaza throughout Wednesday. Israel's Operation Protective Edge has killed a total of 1,400 Palestinians and wounded more than 7,500. The high death toll comes after a bloody day on Tuesday, which saw more than 120 people killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Strip. The Israeli army announced that three of its soldiers were killed on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the military…

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  • PHOTOS: Gaza's streets remain flooded a week after storm

    The UN reports that 10,000 people were displaced in the record-setting storm and that it could take another week to clear the flooding. A week after record-setting winter storms pounded the Middle East, areas of the Gaza Strip are still struggling to cope with severe flooding of homes and businesses. Gaza City residents reported that local government officials were slow to respond, had few available resources and showed little evidence of advanced planning. Instead, most immediate assistance was provided by community members who organized fishing boats and other makeshift watercraft to rescue people from their homes. This week, Palestinian police…

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