The International Human Rights Organization, Human Rights Watch strongly denounced the US decision to cut a significant percentage of their contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
2017 another bad year for human rights in Israel/Palestine:
– Entrenchment of one-state reality of permanent occupation & unequal rights
– Expansion of illegal settlements
– Tightened Gaza closure
– PA/Hamas crackdowns
— Omar Shakir (@OmarSShakir) January 18, 2018
Created in December 1949, UNRWA supports more than 5 million registered Palestinian refugees, and their descendants. Its budget comes primarily from European countries and the United States.
In a recent article titled ‘Trump Blackmail at UN Won’t Work if Others Step Up’ Deputy United Nations Director, Akshaya Kumar argued that aid to Palestinian refugees shouldn’t be a pressure tactic imposed by the US administration. She warned that these moves will undermine efforts to educate children, provide health care to mothers, and feed babies.
US withholding $65 million in funding to @UNRWA, a bullying tactics that threatens to shut down critical programs for an org that serves 5.3 million refugees & operates 711 schools, 143 health clinics. @hrw reacts: pic.twitter.com/o2wve2P4Ok
— Omar Shakir (@OmarSShakir) January 16, 2018
Here are excerpts from her article published in HRW website:
“The US gives this money voluntarily, but, since it’s the agency’s largest donor, this sudden and unexpected decision to withhold US$65 million could have an immediate impact on the Palestinian refugees who rely on UN operations.
“US President Donald Trump hasn’t been shy about politicizing humanitarian aid. He has already used it to pressure the Palestinian Authority into joining peace negotiations led by his administration. On January 2, Trump tweeted, “we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED (sic) OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.” At one point, it looked like the US might withhold all funding, before deciding to cut its first payment of the year in half, pending a “fundamental review” of the way the agency operates.
“The UNRWA provides critical services to 5.3 million refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, including educating over a half million girls and boys in 700 schools and handling over 9 million refugee patient visits at over 140 health clinics. Many of these refugees live in extreme poverty – 95 percent of those in Syria require humanitarian assistance, for example – and UNRWA assistance serves as a lifeline for them.”
UN official and former journalist Chris Guinness breaks during UNRWA interview about Gaza… http://t.co/2mK228tUDv
— Steven Bird (@stevearfa) August 3, 2014
Kumar went on to praise the Belgian government, saying, “Already, Belgium has begun to help fill the US$65 million gap to UNRWA left by the US, making its three-year US$23 million payment to UNRWA all at once. If other governments stand up for Palestinian refugees and make similar unconditional front-loaded donations to UNRWA, it will send a strong message that humanitarian aid shouldn’t be used as a form of political blackmail.”
(PC, Social Media)