Afghanistan, which claims it would collapse without assistance from its top international donor the United States, on Sunday pledged $1 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that provides assistance to Palestinian refugees while blasting President Donald Trump’s administration for suspending aid to the international body’s program.
It appears that despite President Trump’s decision last year to cut funding for UNRWA — the main U.N. program for Palestinian refugees — some American taxpayer funds may find their way to the agency after all through Afghanistan.
As Afghanistan’s top international donor, the United States spends an estimated $3 billion per month on Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — who has periodically thanked the American taxpayer for their contribution to his country — warned in early 2018 that the Afghan army and Kabul government would collapse if the United States were to withdraw its financial support.
Abdul Rahim Sayed, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkey, presented the donation on Sunday to a UNRWA head in an event held in Istanbul. Turkey welcomed the donation.
Notwithstanding the financial difficulties and challenges facing Afghanistan, “Our president decided to support by responding to the call by President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan,” Abdul Rahim Sayed, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Turkey, told the state-run Anadolu Agency (AA), adding:
This is a humanitarian cause. Humanitarian assistance is something which is responsibility of all human beings. Especially, the Islamic world should do it. If Afghanistan can do it [granting aid] in such a difficult time, everybody can do it.
“The Palestinian cause is a very noble cause for Afghan people. Whatever they could do for Palestinians, they will do it,” he added.
Amb. Sayed condemned the Trump administration for suspending aid to the U.N. Palestinian refugee program last year.
“We should not cut any support for humanitarian assistance. Palestinian refugees, children, they need support, and we should do it. Everybody should do it,” the envoy stressed.
At a cost of $350 million annually, the United States had been the UNRWA’s largest contributor by far before Trump ended funding for the agency last year. His decision came as part of an effort to reduce the number of Palestinians considered refugees, recalculate U.S. aid to match the president’s policies, and compel Palestinian politicians to drop or reduce the demand for “right of return” to land contested by Israel.
The Afghan envoy urged the international community, particularly Muslim countries, to play a role in supporting Palestinians.
In January, the UNRWA noted in a statement that it needed additional funding to provide assistance to about 5.4 million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East and maintain the agency’s operations at last year’s levels.
Prior to the Afghanistan pledge, Pierre Krahenbuhl, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, called for a total of $1.2 billion to fund the agency’s “vital core services and life-saving humanitarian aid” for Palestinians refugees.
The United States has spent nearly $1 trillion on the war in Afghanistan since the conflict began in October 2001 in response to the 9/11 attacks, including more than $130 billion alone on nation-building efforts.
Last year, a U.S. watchdog agency determined that American and Afghan officials have wasted over $15 billion of the American taxpayer funds devoted to Afghanistan, noting that the figure is “only a portion.”
“We are just drowning Afghans in money. And when you drown somebody in money, you can’t be surprised that some of it gets wasted,” John Sopko, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), told Breitbart News in 2017.