DECEMBER 9, 2022
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US Considering Permanent Suspension of Funding for Palestinian Refugee Agency

US Considering Permanent Suspension of Funding for Palestinian Refugee Agency

Reports from Reuters suggest that the United States may permanently halt its funding for the UN agency aiding Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. This decision stems from opposition within Congress to the country's financial support for the organization.

UNRWA provides crucial services such as healthcare and education to Palestinians, but faced accusations from Israel in January of having ties to a Gaza Strip operation launched by Palestinian resistance groups in response to Israeli aggression.

Following these allegations, over 10 donor countries, including the US, Germany, the European Union, Canada, and Japan, suspended their financial support, which used to constitute the majority of UNRWA's funding.

This collective action occurred amidst a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with mass displacement and the threat of famine exacerbated by ongoing conflict.

The likelihood of a permanent halt to US funding is fueled by bipartisan opposition in Congress, with a provision in a supplemental funding bill aiming to block UNRWA from receiving funds. President Biden's administration supports this bill.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller indicated that preparations are being made for the possibility of Congress making the funding pause permanent. Any resumption of funding would require support from some Republicans, who currently hold the majority in the House and have expressed opposition to UNRWA.

Representative Brian Mast, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Accountability, labeled UNRWA as a "front" allegedly supporting Hamas, echoing concerns raised by opponents.

Furthermore, a February report by UNRWA detailed cases of mistreatment and torture of agency employees by Israeli authorities, including physical beatings and coercion to falsely admit ties with Hamas.

These developments underscore the uncertain future of UNRWA's funding and its implications for Palestinian refugees who rely on its services for survival.

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