PV International Desk : The United Nations implored member countries Monday to fill a critical funding gap that the Trump administration created by sharply cutting the U.S. contribution to a program that helps Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

The U.N. held a conference to raise money for basic services — from food assistance and medical care to sanitation — for 5 million refugees in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

After the session, the United Nations was still tallying how much was pledged by which countries against this year’s shortfall of $250 million facing the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees, which leads the relief efforts.

U.N. officials said the United States, the program’s top donor, gave $364 million to the agency last year but only $60 million this year. Pierre Krahenbuhl, the agency’s director, said the cut is endangering basic services such as food assistance in Gaza and medical clinics spread among the five areas, while about 500,000 children may not be able to start the school year.

“The situation of Palestinians is defined by great anxiety and uncertainty, first because Palestinian refugees do not see a solution to their plight on the horizon,” he said at a briefing before the conference.

In Gaza, nearly 2 million men, women and children already are experiencing extreme shortages of water and electricity amid tensions that have worsened between the Palestinians and Israel since President Donald Trump opened a U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.