Top executives of 21 NGOs say freeze would deny Palestinian refugees critical support, warn against 'dangerous and striking departure from US policy'
Top executives of 21 prominent aid groups have written a letter to senior officials in US President Donald Trump’s administration, urging them to restore funds for the United Nations agency aiding Palestinians, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
The US State Department last week put on hold two planned payments of more than $100 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports more than five million Palestinian refugees and their descendants across the Middle East.
The State Department denied that the aid cut to UNRWA was to punish the Palestinian Authority, which has cut ties with Trump’s administration following his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A spokeswoman said it was linked to necessary “reform” of the agency.
The non-governmental organizations whose leaders signed the letter included Save the Children, Oxfam America, CARE USA, Refugees International and the International Rescue Committee.
In their letter, the aid groups’ leaders voiced concern that if maintained, the freeze would “disrupt Palestinian access to food, health care, education ‘and other critical support to vulnerable populations,'” the paper reported.
“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,” the leaders wrote in the letter.
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