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United States to restore $235 million in Palestinian humanitarian aid

Palestinian refugees receive aid distributed by UNRWA amid the COVID-19 coronavirus disease outbreak, at the United Nations centre in Rafah on October 14. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new U.S. aid for the UNRWA on Wednesday. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI
Palestinian refugees receive aid distributed by UNRWA amid the COVID-19 coronavirus disease outbreak, at the United Nations centre in Rafah on October 14. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced new U.S. aid for the UNRWA on Wednesday. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

April 7 (UPI) -- Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the United States will restore $235 million in aid to the Palestinian people.

In a reversal of policy from the Trump administration, Blinken said the United States will provide economic, development and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians which he said "serves important U.S. interests and values."

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The aid includes $150 million in humanitarian assistance for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency including education for more than 500,000 Palestinian children and COVID-19 assistance.

"The United States is deeply committed to ensuring that our partnership with UNRWA promotes neutrality, accountability, and transparency," Blinken said. "As with all of our engagements in U.N. institutions, the United States needs to be at the table to ensure that the reforms advance efficiencies and are in accord with interests and values."

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The UNRWA said in a statement Wednesday that the U.S. funds will support, food, physical and mental health, protection, and water and sanitation.

"UNRWA could not be more pleased that once again we will partner with the United States to provide critical assistance to some of the most vulnerable refugees across the Middle East and fulfill our mandate to educate and provide primary health care to millions of refugees every day," UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said.

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Additionally, the United States will provide $75 million in economic and development assistance in the West Bank and Gaza and $10 million for peacebuilding programs through the U.S. Agency for International Development, with a portion of the overall funding supporting the East Jerusalem Hospital Network.

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The renewed funding will be provided in addition to the $15 million the United States announced to address the COVID-19 pandemic and food insecurity in March.

The Trump administration broadly cut Palestinian aid funding in 2018, including $200 million that had been set aside for basic humanitarian services such as healthcare, education, and wastewater projects, in the West Bank and Gaza as part of the State Department's Economic Support and Development Fund.

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