[ACT Statement] Withholding funding support to UNRWA is turning a blind eye to the desperate humanitarian situation Palestine refugees have endured for decades

4th September 2018

The ACT Alliance deeply regrets the United States administration’s decision published on Friday 31 August 2018 to withhold funding to UNRWA, and urges them the US administration to reconsider its decision.  

This decision is contrary to tangible and practical steps towards resolving the Palestine refugee question, which has spanned decades. ACT Alliance therefore calls for the protection and support of some five million Palestine refugees in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, in full recognition of International Refugee Law, International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law. 

“Withholding desperately needed financial aid to run UNRWA’s schools, health centers, and emergency assistance programs and nurturing a future generation is unacceptable,” said Rudelmar Bueno de Faria, ACT Alliance’s General Secretary.

Organisations providing assistance to Palestine refugees, including ACT Alliance members, are confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, their vulnerability and their deepening poverty.

A just and lasting solution to the plight of Palestineian refugees remains pending. The politics of it must not make the US turn a blind eye to the realities of the sufferings of Palestine refugees covered under the UNRWA mandate – who desperately need assistance to make it from a day to the next. It is their right to access such assistance to preserve their dignity and aspirations. 

“The US has traditionally been the most consistent and generous donor of UNRWA, enabling it to provide lifesaving humanitarian responses, including supporting girls access to education among others, and we urge them to remain on this path,” Bueno de Faria continued.

The ACT Alliance calls for the commitment of the United Nations members states to the Palestine refugee cause, as most of the organisations  working with Palestine refugees are operating with large shortfalls. 

ACT Alliance also makes a call to its members and the global church to stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine who have endured decades of suffering and continue to do so in perpetuation. We ask them whereever possible to access those in power and to continue to influence, and provide financial and resources support when they are able.

Notes to the Editors

 https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2018/08/285648.htm:  US administration press release

Following the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict, UNRWA was established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 (IV) of 8 December 1949 to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA across its five fields of operation. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank, including East Jerusalem 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. 

In the absence of a solution to the Palestine refugee problem, the General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA’s mandate, most recently extending it until 30 June 2020. https://www.unrwa.org/who-we-are

In January 2018, the US had communicated a reduction of $300 million to UNRWA’s budget, providing $60 million compared to $364 million in 2017. 

Some of the Previous ACT Alliance Statements and Press Releases on Palestine

1. Message from ACT General Secretary on the situation in Gaza

https://actalliance.org/act-news/message-from-act-general-secretary-on-the-situation-in-gaza/

  1. ACT Alliance study on the ‘Protection of Space for Civil Society and Human Rights Defenders – The Case of Israel and Palestine’

https://actalliance.org/act-news/act-alliance-study-on-the-protection-of-space-for-civil-society-and-human-rights-defenders-the-case-of-israel-and-palestine/

3. ACT expresses concern over US recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel

https://actalliance.org/act-news/act-expresses-concern-over-us-recognition-of-jerusalem-as-capital-of-israel/