Urdupoint: US Urged To Restore Aid To The U.N.'s Palestinian Refugee Agency

The leaders of 21 global aid organizations has asked the Trump administration to restore withheld funds to the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, calling the funding cut a "dangerous and striking departure" from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance

UNITED NATIONS, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Jan, 2018 ):The leaders of 21 global aid organizations has asked the Trump administration to restore withheld funds to the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, calling the funding cut a "dangerous and striking departure" from U.

S. policy on international humanitarian assistance. In a letter addressed to top administration officials, and published by The New York Times, the groups' leaders expressed concern that the White House's decision to withhold more than half of the planned contribution to the agency, if maintained, would disrupt Palestinian access to food, health care, education "and other critical support to vulnerable populations.

" The administration announced last week that it was withholding $65 million from a scheduled payment of $125 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, which aids more than five million Palestinians in refugee camps across the Middle East.

Administration officials said that restoration of the aid depended partly on the Palestinian aid agency's making unspecified reforms, and that withholding the funds had not been punitive. Many Palestinians and their supporters disputed that assertion.

They pointed to statements by administration officials, including a Jan. 2 Twitter message by President Donald Trump, who complained that "we pay the Palestinians HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect.

United Nations officials said the administration's move had created the worst financial crisis in the Palestinian aid agency's seven-decade history. In their letter, the leaders of the aid groups said: "We are particularly alarmed that this decision impacting humanitarian aid to civilians is not based on any assessment of need, but rather designed both to punish Palestinian political leaders and to force political concessions from them.

" "This is simply unacceptable as a rationale for denying civilians humanitarian assistance, and a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance," the letter stated.

It was signed by top executives of prominent nongovernmental relief and advocacy organizations, including Save the Children, Oxfam America, CARE USA, Refugees International and the International Rescue Committee.

The letter was sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and Trump's national security adviser, Lt.

Gen. H.R. McMaster. Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, to the Times that the letter was the outcome of what he described as "the deep reaction by the NGO community to a very bad decision.

" Schwartz, a former assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration under the Obama administration, said the Palestinian aid decision had broken with decades of American policy.

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