U.S. Expected to Revoke All Funding to U.N. Agency Dedicated to Palestinian Refugees
The U.S. is poised to cut all funding for a U.N. agency dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees, The Washington Post reports.
The U.S. is the largest individual donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, according to the agency’s website. The organization provides education, health services, community centers, and financial aid to millions of refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and the West Bank.
According to CNN, the decision to cut funding was made during a meeting between President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, is said to support the move.
President Trump threatened to revoke aid to the organization in January on the grounds that Palestinians are “no longer willing to talk peace” with Israel, eventually cutting the amount of donated funds in half. Friday’s news, expected to become a formal announcement within the next few weeks, will end all funding.
The Trump administration is also expected to call for the end of refugee status for many Palestinians, a move that would revoke their “right of return” to homes in Israel. According to the Post, the White House wants to reduce the numbers from their current levels at more than 5 million to a few hundred thousand.
In a statement to The New York Times, a spokeswoman for the United Nations relief agency said they haven’t received notice of funding being cut, but added “We remain grateful for the funding that the United States has provided thus far.”
Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the Post that the U.S.’s decision could have severe destabilizing effects on the region. With less aid and less education, more Palestinians may be at risk for recruitment by groups such as Daesh (Islamic State).