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Gaza refugees worried over fate of UN's Palestinian refugee agency amid U.S., Israeli pressure
January 10,2018   By:Xinhua

GAZA, Jan. 10, 2018 -- Palestinian refugee Ayman Dahlan from Shati Camp in Gaza city has been extremely concerned about the mounting U.S. and Israeli pressure on the United Nations for Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian refugees in the Far East (UNRWA), the UN agency that provides care for millions of Palestinian refugees across the world.

"Closing UNRWA is a death blow to me and to millions of Palestinian refugees," said middle-aged Dahlan, who is a father of seven.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the weekly cabinet meeting that UNRWA should be gradually shut down.

He added that practical steps must be taken to change the situation in which UNRWA perpetuates the Palestinian refugee problem instead of resolving it.

His comments came after Israeli and international reports said the United States intents to freeze or delay its financial fund to UNRWA and stop aid to the Palestinians until they return to the negotiations table with Israel.

"UNRWA keeps us alive by providing us with food stuff and health care," Dahlan said as he sat in front of his shabby home at the impoverished refugee camp.

Dahlan, who has been jobless for four years, said most of Gaza residents suffer from very dire economic and financial conditions due to the blockade Israel imposed on the seaside enclave after Hamas violent takeover in 2007.

"Closing the agency will only add harm to the injury," he said.

UNRWA, which provides assistance in education, health and food to some 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in the Middle East, is already suffering from a 49-million U.S. dollars financial deficit and any fund suspension would have a negative impact on its work.

Meanwhile, more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip will suffer if the agency is shut down or its financial aid is suspended.

UNRWA takes care of some 1.3 million refugees in Gaza solely, who live in eight refugee camps.

For them, closing UNRWA would be the toughest blow after their plight of forcibly leaving their towns and cities that became part of Israel in the war of its foundation in 1948.