Palestine Refugees

U.S. Humanitarian and Development Organizations Urge Trump Administration To Restore Funding for Programs for Vulnerable Palestinians

U.S. Humanitarian and Development Organizations Urge Trump Administration To Restore Funding for Programs for Vulnerable Palestinians

A group of U.S.-based humanitarian and development NGOs express deep concern over the Trump administration’s decision to stop funding programs that meet the basic needs of Palestinians at a time of acute suffering brought on by years of conflict and isolation.

Games World Italia: Abbas Told Israeli Politician 'Oslo Accords Are Dead'

The Palestinians have long threatened Israel to either adopt the two-state solution or the one-state solution, provided that the Palestinians are given full citizenship rights, both civil and political.

Also on Monday, a hospital in Gaza was forced to stop services after it ran out of fuel, the health ministry said, in a further example of a severe electricity shortage facing the blockaded Palestinian enclave.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday called for the African Union and its member states to play a role in a multilateral mechanism for the peace process between the Palestinians and Zionist Regime.

Those joining Monday's strike said the US funding cut would worsen hardship in the Gaza Strip, and they marched to the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City waving Palestinian flags and brandishing banners that read "Dignity is priceless". It is natural that Abbas responded this way and refused to meet with Pence, he added.

"Their family foundation has donated to Israeli settlements, they are very pro-Israel", the writer told RT.

"This decision is aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions", said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and a former U.S. assistant secretary of state.

For the full article, click here. 

Learning and Finance: Catholic Humanitarian Groups Ask USA to Restore Aid to Palestine Refugees

Ahead of his sit-down with Hamdallah, Kahlon met with United States peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who implored him to stress to the Palestinians that there is no alternative to US-brokered peace talks, the report said. "U.S. aid cuts will affect the entire community", said 59-year-old English teacher Ahmed Abu Suleiman. "Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they're going to have to want to make peace too, or we're going to have nothing to do with it any longer". "The separation wall has already devastated their economy". 

The Changemaker Award, which celebrates the beauty company Revlon Live Boldly campaign, was given to Amani al-Khatahtbeh for her advocacy for Muslim women, however, she declined the award because of the ambassador role given to Gal Gadot, who is a former Israeli Army soldier support the Israeli Defence Force's campaign against the Palestinian people.

But on Thursday, the president made more threats to cut aid. The prime minister called it a "fantasy" to think any other country than the United States can broker a peace agreement. 

The prime minister called it a "fantasy" to think any other country than the United States can broker a peace agreement. 

The U.S. has already once threatened to shut down the PLO mission in NY. The agency provides support for more than 3 million Palestinians across the Middle East. The letter, spearheaded by Refugees International and Norwegian Refugee Council, objected to the withdrawal of USA funds.

For the original article, click here. 

Crux: Advocates alarmed at U.S. suspension of aid to Palestinian refugees

JERUSALEM - The U.S. suspension of $65 million in aid to the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian refugees alarmed advocates who work with Palestinians living in camps.

Hilary DuBose, country representative to the Palestinian territories for the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services, said her agency is “deeply concerned about the impact such a dramatic cut in aid will have.”

The agency, UNRWA, “is one of the major providers of critical, basic life-sustaining support services - including food assistance, education, health care, sanitation management - in the refugee camps. These needs exist.”

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said cutting the aid to refugee assistance would be inhumane.

“We have visited the refugee camps in Gaza and, even with the assistance they receive, they live very meager and undignified lives,” said Cantu, who was participating in the Hispanic Bishops’ Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land. “The separation wall has already devastated their economy. Able-bodied Palestinians who would want to work and are trying to work can’t find sufficient work to support their families. It would be absolutely inhumane to cut the aid.”

He added that politicians must move away from taking offense at the words they say to one another and move toward thinking what is best for humanity.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed frustration with the lack of movement in Mideast peace. Early in January, Trump blamed the Palestinians and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Later, the U.S. government suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, which serves more than 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.

On Jan. 25, Trump said the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Giulia McPherson, interim executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, were among advocates who signed a Jan. 24 letter from humanitarian aid groups. The letter, spearheaded by Refugees International and Norwegian Refugee Council, objected to the withdrawal of U.S. funds. It was addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, national security adviser.

For the full article, click here. 

Catholic Register: Catholic humanitarian groups ask U.S. to restore aid to Palestinian refugees

JERUSALEM – The U.S. suspension of $65 million in aid to the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian refugees alarmed advocates who work with Palestinians living in camps.

Hilary DuBose, country representative to the Palestinian territories for the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services, said her agency is "deeply concerned about the impact such a dramatic cut in aid will have."

The agency, UNRWA, "is one of the major providers of critical, basic life-sustaining support services – including food assistance, education, health care, sanitation management – in the refugee camps. These needs exist."

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said cutting the aid to refugee assistance would be inhumane.

"We have visited the refugee camps in Gaza and, even with the assistance they receive, they live very meager and undignified lives," said Bishop Cantu, who was participating in the Hispanic Bishops' Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land. "The separation wall has already devastated their economy. Able-bodied Palestinians who would want to work and are trying to work can't find sufficient work to support their families. It would be absolutely inhumane to cut the aid."

He added that politicians must move away from taking offense at the words they say to one another and move toward thinking what is best for humanity.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed frustration with the lack of movement in Mideast peace. Early in January, Trump blamed the Palestinians and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Later, the U.S. government suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, which serves more than 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.

On Jan. 25, Trump said the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Giulia McPherson, interim executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, were among advocates who signed a Jan. 24 letter from humanitarian aid groups. The letter, spearheaded by Refugees International and Norwegian Refugee Council,objected to the withdrawal of U.S. funds. It was addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, national security adviser.

For the full article, click here. 

NCR: Advocates alarmed at U.S. suspension of aid to Palestinian refugees

JERUSALEM — The U.S. suspension of $65 million in aid to the U.N. agency that deals with Palestinian refugees alarmed advocates who work with Palestinians living in camps.

Hilary DuBose, country representative to the Palestinian territories for the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services, said her agency is "deeply concerned about the impact such a dramatic cut in aid will have."

The agency, UNRWA, "is one of the major providers of critical, basic life-sustaining support services -- including food assistance, education, health care, sanitation management -- in the refugee camps. These needs exist."

Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, said cutting the aid to refugee assistance would be inhumane.

"We have visited the refugee camps in Gaza and, even with the assistance they receive, they live very meager and undignified lives," said Cantu, who was participating in the Hispanic Bishops' Pilgrimage for Peace in the Holy Land. "The separation wall has already devastated their economy. Able-bodied Palestinians who would want to work and are trying to work can't find sufficient work to support their families. It would be absolutely inhumane to cut the aid."

He added that politicians must move away from taking offense at the words they say to one another and move toward thinking what is best for humanity.

U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed frustration with the lack of movement in Mideast peace. Early in January, Trump blamed the Palestinians and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Later, the U.S. government suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, which serves more than 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.

On Jan. 25, Trump said the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.

Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services, and Giulia McPherson, interim executive director of Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, were among advocates who signed a Jan. 24 letter from humanitarian aid groups. The letter, spearheaded by Refugees International and Norwegian Refugee Council, objected to the withdrawal of U.S. funds. It was addressed to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations; and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, national security adviser.

For the full article, click here. 

Economic Times: Aid groups slam US for withholding Palestinian refugee funds 

WASHINGTON: The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object "in the strongest terms" to a decision to withhold $65 million in planned US contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees. 

The US State Department said last week that Washington would withhold $65 million it had planned to pay the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), saying it needed to make unspecified reforms.

The leaders of the aid groups warned of "dire consequences" if the cut was maintained, according to the letter, a copy of which was given to Reuters. 

"We 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," the letter said. 

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday denied the move was to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of President Donald Trump's announcement last month that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. 

She repeated the US view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the program than previously, and that "money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees." 

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said the comments by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, was 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced," Schwartz said in the letter. 
 

For the full article, click here. 


 

EI: Celebrities back Palestinian refugees as Trump makes new threats

Prominent actors and artists are rallying to support UNRWA, as US President Donald Trump issues new threats to cut funding to the UN agency that works to meet the basic humanitarian needs of five million Palestinian refugees.

“We stand for dignity for the most vulnerable, and we stand with Palestinian refugees who are facing a terrible moment,” the celebrities say in a statement published by the Hoping Foundation on Thursday.

Among those speaking out are actors Hugh Grant, Gillian Anderson, Emma Thompson, James Fox and Tilda Swinton; writers Hanif Kureishi and Will Self and directors Ken Loach and Stephen Frears.

Also endorsing the statement are musician Brian Eno, fashion designer Bella Freud, artist Tracy Emin and soccer greats Eric Cantona and Gary Lineker.

A former England captain and now a BBC sportscaster, Lineker was recently the target of an Israel lobby backlash for tweeting his outrage at the mistreatment of Palestinian children detained by the Israeli military.

“Peoples across the world have always supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and understand that Palestinian refugees – the most vulnerable – are the key to hope, and to any chance of a peaceful future,” the celebrities say.

They call on the UN secretary general to “immediately convene a conference that can establish a stable funding system in order to protect UNRWA’s vital work.”

Israel seeks to destroy UNRWA as part of its effort to erase the right of return of Palestinian refugees from the international agenda. Israel opposes allowing Palestinians to return to the homes and lands from which they were ethnically cleansed because they are not Jews.

Trump threats

The Trump administration has already withheld $110 million in planned contributions precipitating what the agency has called “the worst financial crisis in UNRWA’s history.”

But on Thursday, the president made more threats to cut aid.

Speaking next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the gathering of global elites in the Swiss resort of Davos, Trump accused Palestinian Authority leaders of disrespecting the US by refusing to meet Vice President Mike Pence during his visit to the region earlier this week.

“That money is on the table and that money is not going to them unless they sit down and negotiate peace,” Trump told reporters. “Because I can tell you that Israel does want to make peace, and they’re going to have to want to make peace too, or we’re going to have nothing to do with it any longer.”

Trump also repeated his assertion that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – which has been rejected by Palestinians and much of the world – meant that the future of the city was “off the table” in any negotiations.

That flies in the face of assurances Trump gave in December that his statement on Jerusalem and his decision to move the US embassy there did not mean he was taking a position on “any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.”

Trump asserted at the time that “those questions are up to the parties involved,” to be resolved in negotiations which, following his latest outburst, now look more unlikely than ever.

Punishing civilians

But while a “peace process” remains a vanishingly remote prospect, further damage and suffering for Palestinians is imminent.

On Wednesday, the leaders of 21 international humanitarian agencies wrote to the Trump administration objecting in “the strongest terms” to the funding cuts to UNRWA.

The groups, including Save the Children, the American Friends Service Committee, Catholic Relief Services, Oxfam and Islamic Relief, said the cuts would have “dire consequences” for “life-sustaining assistance to children, women and men in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”

“This decision is aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions,” said Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and a former US assistant secretary of state. “But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians.”

For the full article, click here. 

MWCNews: 'It is wrong': 21 groups slam US for cutting UNRWA aid

The leaders of 21 aid groups have written to the US administration to object to a decision to withhold $65m out of $125m in planned contributions to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The letter warned of "dire consequences" if the cut to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was maintained, according to the letter.

"We 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," it said.

"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."

The letter was sent on Wednesday to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor HR McMaster, and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International:It is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians. This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said comments by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, were aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make concessions.

"But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians," he said in the letter.

"This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced."

To read the full article, click here. 

RealTide.SE: Leading Humanitarian Organisations Object to Trump Administration’s Decision to Cut U.S. Contributions to the UN Relief Agency for Palestinians

Washington, D.C. – Today, the leaders of 21 leading organisations involved in international humanitarian response sent a letter to the Trump Administration objecting “in the strongest terms” to the U.S. decision to withhold US$65 million of the planned contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees in the Middle East.

In the letter (reproduced further down), the humanitarian leaders write: “We 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.”

The letter was sent to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that U.S. administrations and the American people have embraced. ”

For the full article, click here. 

Free Malaysia Today: Aid groups slam US for withholding Palestinian refugee funds

WASHINGTON: The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object “in the strongest terms” to a decision to withhold US$65 million in planned US contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees.

The US State Department said last week that Washington would withhold US$65 million it had planned to pay the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), saying it needed to make unspecified reforms.

The leaders of the aid groups warned of “dire consequences” if the cut was maintained, according to the letter, a copy of which was given to Reuters.

“We 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,” the letter said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday denied the move was to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

She repeated the US view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the program than previously, and that “money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees.”

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said the comments by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, was 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced,” Schwartz said in the letter.

For the full article, click here. 

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.

For the full article, click here. 

i24News: Global aid leaders urge US to reverse UNRWA fund slash

The letter called the cut a “dangerous and striking departure” from America’s history of support

The top executives of 21 leading humanitarian aid groups signed a joined letter to US officials on Wednesday urging them to reverse the funding cut to the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), the New York Times reported on Wednesday.  

Calling the cut a “dangerous and striking departure” from America’s history of support, the world aid leaders expressed their concern at the White House’s controversial decision to halve its payments to the organization stating that it would disrupt Palestinian access to basic needs such as food, health care and education.

The letter was addressed to leading figures in the Trump administration including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, and Trump’s national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster

President Donald Trump announced the freeze last week, that would see a reduction of payments from a current $125 million to $60 million, was the latest in a string of blows affecting the Palestinians since the US’s controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

UNRWA, the second biggest employer of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian Authorities, stated that it had already began to feel the impact with dozens of teachers in East Jerusalem and workers in refugees camps losing their jobs, according to Haaretz.

“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 joint letter from the non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) wrote, which included signatures from Save the Children, Oxfam America, CARE USA, Refugees International and the International Rescue Committee.

For the full article, click here. 

Times Malta: Aid Group Slams US for Withholding Palestinian Refugee Funds

The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object "in the strongest terms" to a decision to withhold $65 million in planned US contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees.

The US State Department said last week that Washington would withhold $65 million it had planned to pay the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), saying it needed to make unspecified reforms.

The leaders of the aid groups warned of "dire consequences" if the cut was maintained, according to the letter, a copy of which was given to Reuters.

“We 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," the letter said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday denied the move was to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of President Donald Trump's announcement last month that he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

She repeated the U.S. view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the program than previously, and that "money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees."

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said the comments by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, was 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that U.S. administrations and the American people have embraced," Schwartz said in the letter.

For the full article, click here. 

Al Jazeera: 'It is wrong': 21 groups slam US for cutting UNRWA aid

The leaders of 21 aid groups have written to the US administration to object to a decision to withhold$65m out of $125m in planned contributions to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

The letter warned of "dire consequences" if the cut to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) was maintained, according to the letter seen by Al Jazeera on Thursday.

"We 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," it said.

"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."

The letter was sent on Wednesday to US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor HR McMaster, and Secretary of Defence James Mattis.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said comments by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, were aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make concessions.

"But it is wrong to punish political leaders by denying life-sustaining aid to civilians," he said in the letter.

"This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced."

For the full article, click here. 

The National: Aid groups slam US for withholding Palestinian refugee funds

The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump government on Wednesday to object "in the strongest terms" to a decision to withhold $65 million (Dh238.7m) in planned US contributions to the UN agency that serves Palestinian refugees.

The US State Department said last week that Washington would withhold $65m it had planned to pay the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), saying it needed to make unspecified reforms.

The leaders of the aid groups warned of "dire consequences" if the cut was maintained, according to the letter.

“We 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," the letter said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday denied the move was meant to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of president Donald Trump's announcement last month that he would move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

She repeated the US view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the programme than previously, and that "money coming in from other countries needs to increase".

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US assistant secretary of state for population, refugees and migration, said the comments by Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, was 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from US policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that US administrations and the American people have embraced," Mr Schwartz said in the letter.

For the full article, click here. 

Y Net News: Aid groups slam US for withholding Palestinian refugee funds

The leaders of 21 humanitarian aid groups wrote to the Trump administration on Wednesday to object "in the strongest terms" to a decision to withhold $65 million in planned US contributions to the United Nations agency that serves Palestinian refugees.

The US State Department said last week that Washington would withhold $65 million it had planned to pay the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), saying it needed to make unspecified reforms.

The leaders of the aid groups warned of "dire consequences" if the cut was maintained, according to the letter.

"We 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," the letter said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on Thursday denied the move was to punish Palestinians, who have been sharply critical of President Donald Trump's announcement last month that he would move the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

She repeated the US view that UNRWA needs reform, saying there are a lot more refugees in the program than previously, and that "money coming in from other countries needs to increase as well to continue paying for all those refugees." 

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, said the comments by Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, was aimed at punishing Palestinian political leaders and forcing them to make political concessions.

For the full article, click here. 

Relief Web: Leading Humanitarian Organizations Object to Trump Administration Plans to Cut U.S. Contributions to the UN Relief Agency for Palestinians

Washington, D.C. – Today, the leaders of 21 leading organizations involved in international humanitarian response sent a letter to the Trump Administration objecting “in the strongest terms” to the U.S. decision to withhold $65 million in planned U.S. contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
In the letter (attached to this press release), the humanitarian leaders write, “We 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.”

The letter was sent to United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Eric Schwartz, president of Refugees International and former U.S. 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. This is a dangerous and striking departure from U.S. policy on international humanitarian assistance which conflicts starkly with values that U.S. administrations and the American people have embraced. ”

For the full article, click here. 

Washington Post: Celebrities criticize Trump cuts to Palestinian refugees

JERUSALEM — Actors Hugh Grant and Viggo Mortensen are among more than 25 celebrities and public figures expressing “horror” over President Donald Trump’s decision to cut funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, an advocacy group said Thursday.

“The real target of this lethal attack is the Palestinian people themselves,” the group said in a joint statement. “It has been launched with the clear aim of dismantling their rights, by dismantling the institution that is charged with protecting them.”

Actresses Gillian Anderson, Olivia Wilde, Emma Thompson and Tilda Swinton were also among the signatories.

The letter was released by the Hoping Foundation, a London-based group that assists Palestinian children.

Expressing frustration with a freeze in Mideast peace efforts, Trump this month blamed the Palestinians for the deadlock and threatened to cut U.S. funding. Washington subsequently suspended a $65 million payment to UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides education, health care and other social services to over 5 million Palestinian refugees and their descendants scattered across the Middle East.

On Thursday, Trump said in Davos, Switzerland, that the Palestinians must return to peace talks to receive U.S. aid money.

The United States is the largest single donor to UNRWA, and the agency has launched a global fund-raising appeal in hopes of closing the gap. In all, it provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year to the Palestinians.

“We stand for dignity for the most vulnerable, and we stand with Palestinian refugees who are facing a terrible moment,” the statement said. The celebrities called on the U.N. chief to convene a conference to establish a stable funding system for the agency.

Meanwhile, the leaders of 21 international humanitarian groups urged the U.S. to reconsider its decision to withhold the funding to UNRWA, warning of “dire consequences” if funding is cut.

The groups said they are alarmed by the Trump administration’s link between aid and political objectives.

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AL Jazeera: US UNRWA aid cut to harm Palestinian refugees in Syria

As US President Donald Trump pulls back funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, Palestinians in Syria are facing "life-threatening" conditions, the agency's spokesperson said.

"Palestinians are among those worst affected by the [Syrian] conflict," said UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, explaining that 95 percent of 438,000 Palestinians in the war-torn country are "in critical need of sustained humanitarian assistance".

"The war in Syria has devastated lives with incalculable cruelty. In this situation, many of the services UNRWA provides are often literally life-saving," Gunness told Al Jazeera, referring to UNRWA's makeshift clinics, emergency assistance and teaching staff that educates 45,000 students a day.

Nearly 58 percent of Palestinians in Syria are internally displaced, with upwards of 56,600 trapped in hard-to-reach or inaccessible parts of the war-ravaged country, he added.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced that the US will indefinitely withhold $65m of its planned $125m in financial contributions to UNRWA, prompting outrage from Palestinians and humanitarian groups.

Salim Salamah, director of the Palestinian League for Human Rights - Syria, argued that Palestinian refugees in Syria and those who have been doubly displaced to neighbouring countries will suffer as a result of the decision.

"The impact is going to be really massive and tragic," he told Al Jazeera.

"For Palestinians of Syria, it's life-saving aid, especially in the context that many Palestinians lack access to many basic services, even [those who fled] in Lebanon or Jordan."

Salamah added: "It falls within the long-standing tradition of eroding the existence of Palestinians ... and it is tragic."

'At stake is dignity'

Earlier this month, US Department of State spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the decision was not "aimed at punishing anyone".

Responding at the time, UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: "At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support."

The move came just weeks after Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Palestinians of showing "no appreciation or respect" for hundreds of millions of dollars in US aid each year.

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