Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump released two statements that shook the world.
The first declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, followed by the second statement, which came in the form of a threat, saying that his administration would withhold billions of dollars in aid from nations who vote against his Jerusalem declaration.
Deep concerns arose within the international community regarding UNRWA's future after Trump's troubling announcements and recent decision to retain $65 million of a pledged $125 million to UNRWA until "unspecified reforms" are carried out.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) seeks to provide aid to over 5 million displaced Palestinians who have been deeply impacted by the ongoing conflict.
Since 1949, UNRWA has provided education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, micro-finance, and emergency assistance to registered Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip.
Financial contributions from nation-states across the world constitute over 92% of the UN agency's funding.
Here are the top 10 biggest donors to UNRWA in 2017:
1. United States ($364 million)
During the 2018 World Economic Forum, Trump threatened to cut Palestinian aid due to President Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to meet with Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump said Palestinians must be willing to cooperate "or we're going to have nothing to do with them any longer".
If these persistent threats materialize and friction between the U.S. and Palestinian authorities heighten, this number is expected to severely decrease. As the largest donor to UNRWA since 2009 consistently, this reduced contribution by the U.S. may lead to "dire consequences".
2. European Union ($143 million)
In response to the U.S.' reduced contribution to UNRWA, the European Union has pledged an additional €42.5 million ($52.9 million).
This aid package includes €14.9 million ($18.5 million) allocated towards the preservation of the 'Palestinian character of East Jerusalem', and €27.5 million ($34.2 million) towards the creation of institutions to facilitate democracy and accountability within Palestine.
3. Germany ($76 million)
In December 2017, Germany also provided additional contributions to UNRWA with an aid package of €23.1 million ($28.8 million).
€18.1 million ($22.6 million) of this donation was designated to UNRWA's reconstruction programme in Gaza, which aims to ensure the safe return of approximately 540 Palestinian families to their homes following total demolition during the Israel-Gaza conflict in 2014.
UNRWA dedicated the remaining amount to the construction of two schools in the Gaza strip, providing education to 6,000 students.
4. Sweden ($62 million)
5. United Kingdom ($60 million)
Although, according to the UNRWA donor charts, the United Kingdom has reduced its annual contribution to UNRWA since 2016, the country also warned against significant cutbacks in UNRWA funding, as it may lead to further instability in the region as well as military and strategic consequences.
Following Donald Trump's announcement to withhold funds to UNRWA, the UK consulate in Jerusalem issued a statement reinforcing its support for the UN agency.
6. Saudi Arabia ($51 million)
According to the UNRWA donor chart for 2017, Saudi Arabia is the largest Arab donor to UNRWA.
The Kingdom has made generous donations through the Saudi Fund for Development, including a grant of $67 million for the implementation of projects in Gaza, the West Bank, and Jordan.
$32 million of this amount will be allocated to the 'reconstruction, furnishing, and equipping' of health centers and schools in the West Bank.
7. Japan ($43 million)
The donation aims to serve a range of UNRWA's projects and services, including education, healthcare, and emergency operations.
Takeshi Okubo, the Ambassador for Palestinian Affairs and Representative of Japan to the Palestinian Authority, said:
"We appreciate UNRWA’s commitment and dedication to the protection of human rights and enhancement of human dignity of Palestinian refugees through its services. I hope people in dire situations will receive our message through UNRWA’s assistance that the international community stands beside them at all times."
8. Switzerland ($27 million)
As many other state actors within the international community, Switzerland has raised concern regarding the humanitarian consequences of withholding funds to UNRWA.
According to the Swiss Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, "In financial terms, this is the most serious financial crisis ever in the history of this agency".
In order to meet the funding gap, Switzerland has provided its 2018 donation in advance along with Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Belgium.
9. Norway ($26 million)
Norway is among the seven countries that have already transferred its 2018 contributions to UNRWA in order to avoid potential reductions in funding and significant consequences.
This donation amounts to 125 million Norwegian Krone ($16 million).
Ine Eriksen Søreide, Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, urged other states to follow their example and provide their contributions as soon as possible.
10. Netherlands ($21 million)
The Dutch government also plans to join the group of states pledging to advance their contributions to UNRWA for 2018 in hindsight of the expected reduction in funding.