On Tuesday, January 16, 2018 the U.S. announced it would be withholding $65 million from a $125 million scheduled payment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the sole UN agency working with Palestinian refugees. Since its inception, the US has been a strong financial supporter of UNRWA, giving over $350 million dollars in support in 2017. This announcement followed a recent decision made by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Central Council to consider the Oslo Peace Accord no longer valid and their intention to suspend their recognition of the state of Israel. Even prior to this decision, the U.S. Administration threatened to cut US aid to the Palestinian people.
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) firmly opposes the withdrawal of U.S. humanitarian support from the Palestinians. Tell Congress humanitarian aid matters.
UNRWA offers medical, humanitarian, and educational support to over five million Palestinian refugees, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. In Gaza, UNRWA provides emergency food support to one million residents. As the primary financial supporter of UNRWA, the decision to significantly cut off aid will have an immediate and profound impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable Palestinians. Already, UNRWA has been forced to lay off over 100 employees, including teachers and other aid workers in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Jordan.
Cuts to aid to Palestinian refugees also threatens to destabilize the region and further foment violence. UNWRA General Commissioner Pierre Krahenbuhl writes, “The reduced contribution also impacts regional security at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalization.”
Click here to take action today. Every Palestinian refugee deserves access to education, medical treatment, and emergency support. Tell Congress cutting humanitarian aid will not bring us closer to just, lasting, and comprehensive solution to the conflict in Israel-Palestine.
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