Memo: Leading humanitarian groups urge US to rethink cuts to UNRWA

The heads of 21 leading humanitarian organisations have appealed to the Trump administration to reverse its recent steps to slash funding to UNRWA, the UN agency which cares for the needs of Palestinian refugees in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and wider region.

Signatories to the letter, which has been sent to US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, include Oxfam America, Save the Children and Norwegian Refugee Council USA.

In the letter (which is reproduced in full below), the leaders say they are “deeply concerned by the humanitarian consequences of this decision on life-sustaining assistance to children, women and men in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip”.

“Whether it is emergency food aid, access to primary healthcare, access to primary education, or other critical support to vulnerable populations, there is no question that these cuts, if maintained, will have dire consequences”.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said: “As reflected in comments by Ambassador Nikki Haley, this decision is aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions. But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians”.

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