Germany increases UNRWA funding ‘substantially’ to make up US shortfall
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Germany increases UNRWA funding ‘substantially’ to make up US shortfall

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany has announced it will increase its funding to the United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency “substantially,” to help make up the loss of funds from the United States this year.

But it won’t be enough to keep the UNRWA afloat, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a letter last week to other European Union member countries.

He is asking them to raise their contributions as well, after the U.S. administration first announced it would cut $300 million from its annual contribution to the agency. On Friday, the United States announced the administration would cease any support for the agency.

Reportedly the agency had an annual budget of $1.1 million this year, up from about $700 million in 2014.

In 2017, the UNRWA listed the U.S.as its top contributor, with more than $364 million. Germany was ranked third, with more than $76 million. Agency director Pierre Krahenbuhl said last Thursday that $200 million is needed before the end of 2018, particularly in order to keep schools open.

In his letter to the European Union, Maas said the UNRWA was key to regional stability. He did not specify how much more Germany would contribute.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said Thursday that his country will hold a fundraiser for the agency at U.N. headquarters in New York on September 27.

Germany has strong economic, scientific and academic ties to Israel, and subsidizes the cost of German submarines for the Israeli navy. According to a Reuters report, bilateral trade in goods and services came to  $5.5 billion in 2016.