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Students hold a Palestinian flag inside the Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon, southern Lebanon in December 2017. Photo by Ali Hashisho/Reuters

U.S. withholds $65 million from Palestinian aid programs, official says

WASHINGTON — A U.S. official says the Trump administration is cutting tens of millions of dollars in funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, slashing this year’s first contribution by more than half.

The official says the U.S. is making additional donations contingent on major changes to the organization.

The official said the U.N. Relief and Works Agency was notified Tuesday the U.S. is withholding $65 million of the planned $125 million installment.

The U.S. is UNWRA’s largest donor, supplying nearly 30 percent of the budget. The agency focuses on providing health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The official wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the U.S. letter to UNRWA and demanded anonymity.

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