The United States is halting its funding for the United Nations' agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, after determining that the organization is "irredeemably flawed," the State Department said on Friday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which was formed in December 1949, is supported by voluntary contributions from UN member states.
"The administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA," State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement.
US decision to end funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency inhumane, reckless: PLO official
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has censured as “inhumane and reckless” a recent decision by the United States to cut some $300 million in planned funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA).
"The US administration's decision to terminate all funding to UNRWA is a cruel and irresponsible move targeting the most vulnerable segment of Palestinian society,” Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said on Saturday.
She added, “The Palestinian refugees are already the victims, who have lost their homes, livelihoods and security as a result of the creation of Israel, and once again, they are being victimized by the US administration in support of Israel's decades-long military occupation and impunity.”
The senior Palestinian official further noted that UNRWA provides 5.3 million Palestinian refugees residing in 58 refugee camps in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria “with a sense of hope and security through its vital services, support and opportunities for work, growth and development.”
“It also provides protection for the Palestinian refugees to ensure that their rights under international law are protected and promoted,” she added.
Ashrawi warned that the real outcome of the US administration's latest “unilateral and reckless policy is the destabilization of the entire region and the creation of unimaginable suffering and hardship for the Palestinian refugees.”
“With such a decision, the US is destroying the very foundations of peace and stability besides taking all permanent status issues off the table, including the right of return for refugees and occupied al-Quds,” she pointed out.
“Until the plight of the Palestinian refugees is resolved in accordance with international law and relevant UN resolutions, including … United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 (III), we call on all members of the international community to shoulder their responsibilities towards Palestinian refugees and provide the necessary support and financial assistance UNRWA needs to fulfill its mandate,” Ashrawi concluded.
Hamas: US decision to stop funding UNRWA dangerous escalation
Furthermore, the Palestinian Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, has denounced the US decision to cut aid to UNRWA, saying the measure “aims to abolish the right of return and represents a dangerous escalation by the United States against Palestinian people.”
“This decision reflects the Zionist background of the American leadership, which became an enemy of our people and nation. We affirm that we will not surrender to such unjust decisions,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri wrote on his Twitter page on Saturday.
UNRWA: US funding cut 'deeply regrettable and shocking'
Meanwhile, UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness has described the decision by the administration of US President Donald Trump “deeply regrettable” and “shocking.”
Gunness said on Saturday that the move would affect “millions of people,” including “some of the most disadvantaged and marginalized on this planet.”
The US State Department announced in a written statement on Friday that Washington “will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation.”
Washington donated $355 million to the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees in 2016, and was set to make a similar contribution this year.