UN Palestinian agency says overcoming Trump funding cuts

Switzerland's Pierre Kraehenbuehl, UNRWA Commissioner-General gestures during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. (AP)
Updated 15 November 2018
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UN Palestinian agency says overcoming Trump funding cuts

GENEVA: The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has nearly overcome a crippling funding crisis caused by President Donald Trump canceling the US aid contribution, agency chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl said Thursday.
The organization, known as UNRWA, had counted on a budget of $1.2 billion (1 billion euros) for 2018 but faced a gap of $446 million when the Trump administration announced it was cutting support.
UNRWA responded to its “unprecedented” financial pressures by seeking support across UN member-states and raised an additional $382 million, bringing the shortfall for the year down to just $64 million, Kraehenbuehl told reporters in Geneva.
He said he hoped the gap could still be trimmed further in the coming weeks.
“I’ll be very honest in saying, I don’t think many people believed that we would be able to overcome a $446 million shortfall at the beginning of the year,” said Kraehenbuehl, who took charge of UNRWA in 2014.
He credited the European Union and especially four Gulf countries with increasing support.
Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates upped their support to $50 million each to offset Trump’s cuts, the UNRWA chief said.
The agency’s 2019 budget has not been finalized, but Kraehenbuehl stressed it was important “to preserve those new levels of funding.”
The United Stated had previously been UNRWA’s largest contributor.
But the Trump administration as well as Israel say they oppose the way the organization operates and how it calculates the number of Palestinian refugees.
UNRWA was set up in 1950 to help Palestinian refugees who lost their homes because of the 1948 Middle East conflict. Its assistance includes schools, health care centers and food distribution.
More than 750,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.
They and all their descendants are deemed by the UN agency to be refugees who fall under its remit.


Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

Updated 18 June 2019
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Former Egyptian president Morsi buried in Cairo: lawyer

  • Morsi, was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention, says state TV
  • The former president died aged 67

CAIRO: Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was buried on Tuesday in eastern Cairo, one of his lawyers said, a day after he collapsed in court and died.

“He was buried in Medinat Nasr, in eastern Cairo, with his family present. The funeral prayer was said in Tora prison hospital” where he was declared dead on Monday, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud said.

Egyptian state television announced that Morsi, 67, who was ousted by the military on July 3, 2013, had been attending a court session at his trial on charges of espionage and links with the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

It was reported that he collapsed in the courtroom inside a glass cage he and others had been sharing, before his body was transferred to a local hospital.

Morsi died from a sudden heart attack, state television reported early on Tuesday, citing a medical source. The source said the former president, who was suffering from a benign tumor, had continuous medical attention.

Attorney-General Nabil Sadiq issued a statement saying: “The accused, Mohammed Morsi, in the presence of the other defendants inside the cage, fell unconscious, where he was immediately transferred to the hospital.

“The preliminary medical report stated that by external medical examination they found no pulse, no breathing, and his eyes were unresponsive to light. He died at 4:50 p.m. and no apparent injuries to the body were found.”

Sadiq added he had ordered the transfer of teams from the Supreme State Security Prosecution Office and the Southern Cairo Prosecution Office to conduct an investigation into Morsi’s death, and to examine surveillance footage from the courtroom and collect witness testimonies.

He also ordered that a senior forensic committee headed by the chief medical officer and the director of forensic medicine to prepare a forensic report on the cause of death.

Various outlets say that a state of high alert has been issued by the military and the Ministry of the Interior throughout the country following the news, for fear of riots or activity by the Muslim Brotherhood, in which Morsi was a prominent figure.

Morsi became president in June 2012 after the first democratic elections in the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak on Jan. 25, 2011. He was Egypt’s fifth president.

He was born to a family of farmers on Aug. 20, 1951, in the village of Al-Adwa in Sharkia province. He married in 1978 and leaves behind his wife, five children and three grandchildren.

Following his deposition and arrest, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on Oct. 22, 2016, over bloody clashes that took place on Dec. 5, 2012 in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and opponents of Morsi rejecting a constitutional declaration issued in November of that year.

Other sentences meant his total incarceration could have been up to 48 years, with the ongoing espionage case potentially carrying a further maximum sentence of 25 years.

In Istanbul on Tuesday, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters took to the streets, mourning former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and some chanting slogans blaming Cairo authorities for his death.

* With AFP