Top Palestinian official hails UN agency

Palestinian refugees' lives are better thanks to the UN agency to help Palestinians, said Riyad Al-Maliki, Palestine's foreign minister, on Sunday.

Speaking at a UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) event hosted in Istanbul, Turkey's commercial capital, Maliki thanked Afghanistan for their $1 million donation for Palestinian refugees.

He also hailed the UNRWA's support, saying the agency provides for the basic needs of Palestinian refugees such as education and food.

"The UNWRA is successfully carrying out a very demanding task today. Great results have been achieved. The efforts made last year are very important," he said.

"Half a million children continued their education without interruption last year, thanks to the UNRWA. The lives of Palestinian refugees are better because of you," Maliki added.

He also thanked Turkey for hosting the event in Istanbul, saying that for decades Turkey has consistently supported the Palestinian cause.

"Turkey and Mr. [Foreign Minister Mevlüt] Çavuşoğlu made great efforts to support the UNRWA. There are 5.6 million Palestinian refugees and they get aid thanks to you."

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump cut Washington's annual funding for the UNRWA. The U.S. had been the agency's largest contributor by far, providing it with $350 million each year -- roughly a quarter of its overall budget.

The UNRWA was established by the UN General Assembly in 1949 with the stated aim of providing aid and protection to Palestinian refugees in its five areas of operations: Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

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