ROME– UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will be here for a conference in support of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The conference on Thursday is intended to support a collective international response to the agency’s funding deficit of nearly half a billion U.S. dollars as a result of U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden steep cut in his country’s contribution.

The UN agency, officially known as the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), is a relief and human development aid body for Palestinian refugees and their descendants. It currently helps about 5.3 million people in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria as well as West Bank and Gaza.

UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock is releasing 30 million dollars from the Central Emergency Response Fund to urgently support Palestine refugees through UNRWA, said the UN spokesman.

An exceptional grant of 15 million dollars will enable UNRWA to avoid disruption of life-saving food assistance to vulnerable refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory, where over 2.5 million people are currently in dire need of humanitarian assistance, he said.

Donors are encouraged to step up urgently and increase their support for humanitarian action in the occupied Palestinian territory and the region and for UNRWA as a major humanitarian aid provider, said the spokesman.

While in Rome, Guterres will co-chair a ministerial meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon. He will emphasize the importance of supporting the people and state institutions of Lebanon, said Dujarric.