UNRWA funding debate: US holds back $65m in humanitarian aid to Palestinians
07 February 2018
In a debate late last night in Strasbourg, which you can watch here, I expressed my deep disappointment with the US government´s decision to cut more than half its planned funding -some $65 million - for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), the organisation which provides schools, hospitals and basic services for Palestinian refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Every US administration since Truman, regardless of their political tendencies, have supported UNRWA and this cut will impact directly on millions of refugees, including children across the Middle East. Coming on top of President Trump´s announcement last December to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, this decision makes a relaunch of a realistic Israel-Palestine peace process a more distant prospect.
The EU has committed itself to continue support to UNRWA and accelerated its first scheduled payment for 2018 to help them. Other countries around the world from Belgium to Japan have also indicated they will increase payments UNRWA to try and fill the funding gap.