Financially strapped UNESCO to postpone programs

PARIS (JTA) — UNESCO will postpone some of its programs and has called for emergency donations following the pullout of U.S. support, said the organization’s head.

Irina Bokova, the general director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, said Nov. 11 that the organization was going through “difficulties” following the loss of millions of dollars in U.S. funding. The United States withdrew its backing under the provisions of U.S. law after UNESCO voted to extend full membership to the Palestinians in late October.

Faced with the loss of 22 percent of its budget, or some $65 million, following the removal of U.S. funds, and to a smaller extent Israeli revenue, Bokova called on member states to urgently consider making additional loans to the group’s working capital fund, and also called for private and institutional parties to contribute to UNESCO’s “core priorities” in a newly created Emergency Multi-Donor fund.

The decision to suspend programs until 2012 should save $35 million, and another $30 million of UNESCO’s operational funds will be used to help make up for the $65 million loss for 2011. The U.S. normally would have made its annual deposit to the organization in December.

UNESCO is facing an estimated $143 million deficit for the years 2012 and 2013, according to French reports.

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