Washington, DC | adc.org | January 29, 2024 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is calling upon the Biden Administration to immediately restore funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and encourage the international community to do the same. UNRWA is the primary source of humanitarian aid for the over 2 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Palestinians rely on the agency for their survival, and it is currently providing shelter, food, and primary healthcare for over 1 million despite Israel’s ongoing genocidal campaign in Gaza. 13 countries have followed the US’s lead in suspending funding to UNRWA, including six of the ten largest donors accounting for nearly $700 million of the agency’s $1.2 billion 2022 funding.
UNRWA has 13,000 employees in Gaza, 3,000 of whom continue to report to work and serve their community. Endangering the lives of millions of Palestinians over allegations leveled against 12 of the 13,000 UNRWA staff is simply indefensible. ADC agrees with the Jordanian Foreign Minister that cutting financial support for the agency amounts to collective punishment, and we further believe that by suspending funding, the 14 countries have intentionally disregarded last Friday’s ruling from the International Court of Justice which ordered that Israel take “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”. The only way that this can be done is through cooperation with international partners, especially UNRWA as the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza.
ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “This cynical action by the Biden State Department will only worsen what is already a humanitarian catastrophe, and is a continuation of a failed foreign policy that does not reflect the will of a majority of Americans. Exposing a Palestinian people facing genocide to the risk of losing what little humanitarian aid they are able to receive is inexcusable.”
Adding insult to injury, the US House of Representatives has a hearing scheduled for tomorrow to further demonize and delegitimize UNRWA and the life-sustaining services it provides. The State Department’s announcement came immediately following the ICJ ruling that a possible genocide is occurring or could in the future – timing that is questionable and makes it clear that this is a political move aimed at diverting attention away from the ruling.