January 31, 2020 / 12:26 PM / 21 days ago

U.N. aid agency fears U.S. Middle East plan will spark violence

Christian Saunders, acting Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) attends a news conference in Geneva, Switzerland January 31, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The U.N. aid agency for Palestinian refugees voiced concern on Friday that the U.S. administration’s Middle East peace plan will spark further violence and said it had contingency measures in place to boost protection and assistance in the occupied territories.

Christian Saunders, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), asked about the U.S. plan which would not allow a right of return to Israel, said that this right was “enshrined in international law and various (U.N.) General Assembly resolutions”

“We certainly have serious concerns that (the U.S. plan) it will result in an escalation in clashes, violence,” Saunders told a Geneva briefing. “Palestinian refugees also look to us for reassurance in times like this when their rights and safety come under threat.”

UNRWA, which provides critical services to 5.6 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, including the West Bank and Gaza, appealed to donors for $1.4 billion this year.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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