The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees says last-minute donations of some $70 million helped avert the closures of schools attended by half a million students.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency had warned a $101 million deficit would force it to delay the start of the school year in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Jordan has said it can't absorb the overflow because its schools are crowded with Syrian refugees.

Agency chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl said Tuesday that contributions arrived over the past week from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Britain and Sweden. They helped reduce the shortfall to $22 million.

Kraehenbuehl says that in the unstable region, there's a risk of "forgetting the humiliation and despair endured for decades" by Palestinian refugees.