Trump Administration Cuts UNRWA Funding Deepening Rift Between Washington and Ramallah
In a shocking announcement Tuesday, the Trump administration agreed to transfer $60 million to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) cutting the budget by more than half. The remaining $65 million will be withheld until further notice.
The total US contribution to UNRWA in 2017 was above $350 million.
In early January, Trump tweeted,”With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”
…peace treaty with Israel. We have taken Jerusalem, the toughest part of the negotiation, off the table, but Israel, for that, would have had to pay more. But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2018
In a Statement issued by UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl, he stated that since 1950, every US administration from President Truman, “stood with and provided strong, generous and committed support to (UNRWA).” He reiterated the U.S. has consistently been UNRWA’s largest single donor, “something we sincerely thank the American people for.”
Krähenbühl stated that the future of 525,000 children in 700 UNRWA schools is at stake and the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, are in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He cautioned that the reduced contribution impacts regional security “at a time when the Middle East faces multiple risks and threats, notably that of further radicalization.”
In Washington, the P.L.O. Representative to the United States, Dr. Husam Zomlot stated, “Palestinian refugees and children’s access to basic humanitarian services, such as food, healthcare, and education is not a bargaining chip but the U.S. and international obligation…taking away food and education from vulnerable refugees does not bring a lasting and comprehensive peace”
Zomlot warned that “heeding Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s zero-sum game to take Jerusalem off the table and now attempting to dismantle UNRWA, thinking that it would relinquish the rights of Palestinian refugees is a fallacy.”
Despite Tuesday’s traumatic news, Krähenbühl stated UNRWA stands for hope, for respect of rights, and for dignity. “When things are difficult, our determination grows,” he said. “When the way seems lost, we invest all our energy in search of new paths, keeping our eyes on the horizon and looking for different solutions.
UNRWA is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance.
To Read UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbüh’s Full Statement, Click Here
To Learn About UNRWA USA, Click Here
Compiled by Arab America