April 29, 2024

NIAC Joins Over 100 Organizations to Call for UNRWA Restoration

NIAC was one among over 100 organizations in a letter sent today to President Biden, Speaker Johnson and Leader Schumer expressing concern over Congress’s decision to reinforce and codify the Biden Administration’s suspension of U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which is the largest humanitarian operator on the ground in Palestine. With U.S. officials confirming that famine has set in in Gaza amid the horrific war that began October 7, the letter urges the United States to restore funding to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the moment. Additional signers of the letter include Amnesty International, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Friends Committee on National Legislation, Human Rights Watch, International Refugee Assistance Project and more.

The United States suspended funding for UNRWA after Israeli officials alleged that 12 members of UNWRA’s staff in Gaza – a very small fraction of those employed by the humanitarian operator – had taken part in the October 7 attack against Israel. UNRWA immediately fired the employees named and subsequently launched an investigation into the incident. In the months since, Israel has failed to provide any evidence to substantiate their claims. As a result, with several other major nations having resumed their funding and a famine looming, it is imperative that the U.S. do so as well.

As the letter states “UNRWA is the primary entity serving this population and has effectively been doing so since its establishment over 75 years ago. UNRWA’s unique experience, knowledge, and expertise within the region and with the Palestinian refugee population is indispensable.

With the current death toll standing at more than 34,000 and tens of thousands more injured and in need of medical treatment that they cannot access, stripping U.S. funding for UNRWA – the administrator that is most capable of providing humanitarian aid on the ground in Gaza – threatens to expand these horrific numbers, as well as exacerbate the looming famine and spread of disease that we have already begun witnessing. 

Read the full letter, included below:

Refugee and Human Rights Org Letter on Restoring U.S. Funding to UNRWA
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