From Vice News - A United Nations funding shortfall means that more than 450,000 Palestinian child refugees are set to find their classrooms are closed on the first day back to school.
In a report to the UN's Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNRWA, the branch of the body charged with providing aid to Palestinian refugees, warned that the "financial crisis" looked set to "force the suspension of services relating to the agency's education program."
"At a time of growing instability [and] rising extremism, there's going to be an extra half million kids on the streets of the Middle East," Chris Gunness, a spokesperson for the agency, told VICE News. "Radical groups are in full recruitment mode… these children should be in UN schools."
In a bid to stave off the crisis UNRWA has issued an urgent appeal to donors, including the United States, Australia, and the Gulf countries, to help plug the $101 million dollar hole in its education budget, but now with just nine days to go until the start of the school year in many places the funding pot is still short.
UNRWA is mandated to provide life-saving humanitarian aid as well as state-like services, including schools and hospitals, to millions of Palestinian refugees scattered across the region but it does not have a guaranteed budget. Instead the organization depends on donor contributions, which it says have not kept pace with the huge increase in demands on its services. more