Dear MoveOn member,
On January 16, the U.S. government made the decision to freeze millions of dollars to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This is an unprecedented and extremely dangerous decision that will cause untold additional trauma and harm to Palestine refugees who rely on UNRWA's services in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.1
Since UNRWA began its operations in May 1950, every administration, from Truman onwards, has stood with and provided strong, generous, and committed support to the agency. This administration is the only one to make the destructive decision to cut such funding.
Through UNRWA's humanitarian and development work, it is unique in providing vital services that are akin to those normally provided through governments, and it does so directly through over 33,000 staff, most of whom are Palestine refugees themselves.
As a neutral and impartial UN agency, it
•educates 525,000 girls and boys in 700 UNRWA schools, including education on human rights, conflict resolution, and tolerance;
•operates more than 140 health centers and delivers comprehensive primary health-care services, handling more than 9 million patient visits per year;
•provides cash assistance and shelter rehabilitation to help refugees meet their basic human needs of food, shelter, and environmental health to achieve a decent standard of living and improve infrastructure and living conditions in the 58 recognized Palestine refugee camps; and
•provides emergency humanitarian assistance through life-saving cash, food, and shelter support in Gaza and Syria.2
I implore the White House to reconsider this decision, as it is against our American principles, global security and safety, and common human interest. In line with the democratic and humanitarian values this country was founded on and stands for, the U.S. government's investment in UNRWA's work must be sustained, as it affects not only the lives of the over 5 million Palestine refugees the organization serves but the future and stability of the Middle East and beyond.
–Abby Smardon, Executive Director
1. "Schools, health could be hit by U.S. cut for Palestinian refugee funds: UNRWA chief," Reuters, January 17, 2018
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