A Palestinian woman leaves the UNRWA beach distribution center in Gaza City on January 8, 2018. AFP / MOHAMMED ABED
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UNRWA, the United Nations' agency for Palestine refugees, rebuffed calls by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shut down the agency's operations and redirect the aid to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR. Netanyahu's calls could have major repercussions for the 450,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Lebanon and 174,422 currently living in the country. Issues about the agency's funding were sparked on Jan. 3, when U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley threatened to axe aid funding for Palestinians.As of December 2016, the U.S. ranked as the top contributor to UNRWA, providing $364 million – over 40 percent of the agency's total budget – figures provided by UNRWA revealed.The U.N. agency, founded in 1949, is a main provider of educational and health services to Palestinian refugees across the region.The United States has provided the Palestinian Authority with budgetary support and security assistance for the past 70 years, as well as an additional $304 million for U.N. programs in the West Bank and Gaza.
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