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Palestine aid agency in dire need

A UN relief agency for Palestinians may close up shop unless there's a last-minute torrent of donations to keep it afloat, Monitor special correspondent Louis Wiznitzer writes.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East needs at least $34 million in voluntary contributions before Christmas. Without it, UNRWA will have to dismiss 5,000 teachers by March and close its schools in Jordan and Syria, thus depriving 140,000 children of their education.

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Beyond that, as a result of its projected deficit of $80 million for 1982, UNRWA may collapse altogether and have to be dismantled. This would have serious political consequences. UNRWA is considered by Western diplomats here to be one of the few elements of stability in a highly volatile region.

The closure of UNRWA school program would:

* Send thousands of economically deprived Arab youths in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza into Palestinian guerrilla organizations.

* Be considered by the Arab governments a refusal by the international community to live up to its commitments.

Developed countries, particularly the United States, Japan, and France, have contributed generously to UNRWA. The US has raised its contribution for 1982 from $52 million to $62 million

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