UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini appealed to international donors for at least $400 million for the financially strapped organization hit hard by the impact of COVID-19 and poised to be rattled again by any pending Israeli annexation plans.“Year after year, month after month, UNRWA is on the edge of a financial collapse,” Lazzarini said. “This cannot continue.” “We are entering a period of renewed uncertainty with the threat of annexation in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, with the worst economic downfall in Lebanon’s modern history and with the seemingly endless conflict in Syria,” he said.Lazzarini spoke at the annual UNRWA pledging conference, which took place virtually this year.“Among the new threats is the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “After the health outbreak, we are now confronted with a pandemic of abject poverty. Anger, despair and hopelessness are growing within the Palestine refugee community. They are turning to us for more assistance and some are even trying their luck through deadly migration roads.”“In an unpredictable and unstable environment, we need, more than ever, a predictable and stable UNRWA,” Lazzarini added.After the meeting UNRWA announced it had received pledges for $130 million. UNRWA services 5.6 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Gaza, east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.Israel and the US have complained that the organization, which awards refugee status to the descendants of those Palestinians displaced by the 1948 and 1967 wars, has created an exponentially growing refugee class that is a stumbling block to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.They have further argued that UNRWA is inefficient and that the refugees could be better serviced by local authorities. Under the Trump administration, the US cut an annual contribution of $350 million, leaving UNRWA struggling to make up the funding gap for its $1.4 billion budget.UNRWA has argued that it is all that stands between the Palestinian refugees and poverty. It has said that it provides food and shelter as well as educational and healthcare services that cannot be duplicated.Lazzarini told donors that UNRWA has graduated more than two million students and created 700,000 jobs.“During COVID-19, we have shifted to telemedicine and to remote education,” he said. “By doing so, we contributed to containment with less than 180 cases in 58 overcrowded refugee camps.