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WCC regrets USA withdrawal from UN relief for Palestinian refugees

WCC regrets USA withdrawal from UN relief for Palestinian refugees

Dawn at checkpoint as thousands of Palestinian workers make their way to work in Israel. Photo: Sean Hawkey/WCC

03 September 2018

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed deep regret over the decision by the government of the USA to withdraw all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees.

“This is effectively a decision to abandon the Palestinian refugee population and to block them from the realization of their inalienable human rights and legitimate aspirations for the future – including a viable two-state solution,” said WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “As such, we consider the decision immoral and unjust, driving Palestinian refugees to more hopelessness, despair and desperation.”

The WCC called on President Trump to reverse this course of action, for the international community to increase their commitment to supporting Palestinian refugees, and for the UN to prioritize maintaining essential humanitarian services in this context.

UNRWA is a UN agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees, and currently offers services encompassing education, health care, social services, camp infrastructure, food assistance and microfinance to over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

UNRWA’s 711 schools enable 526,000 Palestinian girls and boys to receive quality education, and its almost 150 medical clinics provide essential health care to the refugee population. The United States has consistently been the largest donor to UNRWA.

“The US decision to withdraw all funding for this collective responsibility through UNRWA is a serious politicization of humanitarian aid,” added Tveit. “The responsibility for this protracted refugee crisis does not lie with UNRWA, but with the parties to the conflict and with the international community for their abject lack of will or ability to bring about a just peace in the region.”

Read the full statement of the WCC on the decision by the USA government to withdraw funding for the UNRWA

Learn more about the WCC work on Promoting Just Peace