GENEVA (Jul. 26)
A tentative pledge by the United States of an additional $8.5 million for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Arabs (UNRWA) may save that agency’s preparatory school program for another year. The schools, which serve 90,000 Palestinian youngsters throughout the Middle East, faced suspension at the end of August because of UNRWA’s multi-million dollar deficit in 1978.
But Thomas W. McElhiney, Commissioner General of UNRWA, announced the program will be extended at least through October on the basis of a statement of intent by the U.S. government to provide the additional funds. The extra contribution is subject to approval by Congress. If it is approved, the school program will be extended until the end of the year and will continue into 1979.
The UNRWA schools operate in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More than half the agency’s budget is ear-marked for educational purposes, which include the operation of 610 schools, eight vocational and teacher-training institutions and subsidized secondary and university education for a total of 380,000 Palestinian refugee youths.
The remainder of the budget goes for health care and relief programs. Earlier this year, the U.S. pledged a regular contribution of $42.5 million to UNRWA. If Congress approves the additional stipend, the total American contribution will amount to $51 million this year.