epa06997189 Palestinians protesters gather across the watch tower of the separation wall, during a protest against United State decision on UNRWA funding, near Erez crossing in the northern Gaza Strip, 04 September 2018. According to media reports on 31 August 2018, the United States has ended all funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). 'The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA' according to a statement by the US State Department.  EPA/HAITHAM IMAD
Palestinians protesters gather across the watchtower of the separation wall during a protest against United State decision on UNRWA funding. EPA/HAITHAM IMAD

British government raises funding of UNRWA following US aid cancellation

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In a perceived rebuke to its American ally, the British government announced on Tuesday that it would increase financial support to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) by £7 million (Dh33m) to help ensure that Palestinians will continue to be able to access vital healthcare and education services.

Addressing the House of Commons, the minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said: “UK aid support through UNRWA provides an essential humanitarian and stabilising force in the Middle East, educating hundreds of thousands of children every year and providing health care to some of the most vulnerable Palestinian refugees. Today’s UK aid package reaffirms our unequivocal support to this UN agency and the important work it does.

“We are deeply concerned about the devastating impact a shortage of funds for UNRWA could cause on those that rely on its services, as well as the consequences this could have for regional stability.”

The commitment comes after the US said on Friday that it would end funding for UNWRA. It also cancelled more than $200m (Dh734.6m) in bilateral aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.


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Mr Burt said that “whilst today’s UK aid announcement will help to meet immediate needs, we are clear that the UK cannot act alone. For the sake of millions of Palestinians, the international community and other donors must follow our lead and step up support to UNRWA to ensure its vital services are not interrupted”.

The UN agency, which is now facing severe financial pressure at a time of unprecedented demand following Washington’s decision to cut aid, is a lifeline for millions of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Funding from the UK Department for International Development will help to keep schools open for more than 500,000 children, and provide medical care for 3.5 million refugees.

Earlier this year, the UK brought forward financial assistance to UNWRA, providing an additional £10m to help address the unexpected shortfall in funding, which is particularly affecting Gaza.

The new commitment brings the total UK contribution to UNRWA’s Programme Budget to £45.5m in the financial year 2018/19, in addition to £38.5m which has already been given to ensure core programmes and services remain uninterrupted.

Meanwhile, the UK Foreign Secretary also said that the continuing imprisonment of dual Iranian-British national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was a gross injustice and that he hoped to meet Iranian counterparts at the United Nations in New York to further discuss the issue. Jeremy Hunt said that he was willing to travel to Tehran to help secure her release from jail.

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Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.



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2018 ICC World Twenty20 Asian Western Regional Qualifier

Saturday results
Qatar beat Kuwait by 26 runs
Bahrain beat Maldives by six wickets
UAE beat Saudi Arabia by seven wickets

Monday fixtures
Maldives v Qatar
Saudi Arabia v Kuwait
Bahrain v UAE

* The top three teams progress to the Asia Qualifier