Budget deal cuts U.S. funding for UN lifeline for Palestinians

Congress voted early Saturday to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars from the U.N. agency that distributes most food, medicine and basic services to Gaza and Palestinians. Across the Middle East, critics called it a devastating blow to a region in crisis.

The United States and several other countries, Funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) suspended in January Israeli charges Twelve of the agency’s 13,000 Gaza employees were involved in Hamas’s cross-border attack on 7 October.These new restrictions were proposed by Republicans as $1.2 trillion government spending planextending the funding moratorium by at least one year.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), speaking on the House floor on Friday, said UNRWA had become “a de facto subsidiary of Hamas,” echoing longstanding criticism The agency’s statement from the Israeli government. “This section of the road Passage of this bill means that American taxpayers will not provide an additional dollar of funding to this deeply flawed organization. “

U.N. officials have strongly denied such claims, and Israel has publicly disclosed no evidence to support its allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the attack or that the organization had been infiltrated. The UN secretary-general has launched an independent investigation and plans to release its findings next month. However, the consequences of these accusations are wide-ranging.

UNRWA was established in 1949 to provide aid to Palestinians who fled or were expelled from their homes during the establishment of the Israeli state, and now manages most government-like services, including schools, health care, food and housing assistance, and hundreds of Tens of thousands of refugees and their descendants live in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The European Commission, Canada, Australia and Sweden unfrozen contributions to UNRWA this month.but U.S. contributions totaled $422 million last year, which typically accounts for about 30 percent of UNRWA’s budget, the organization said. Officials say cutting those resources now, with more than one million Gazans on the brink of famine, could have catastrophic consequences. Nearly six months of Israeli bombing has killed more than 32,000 people, according to local health officials.

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“This is the equivalent of a government shutdown,” said Bill Diehl, director of UNRWA’s Washington office. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I can tell you that when you remove the last hope for millions of people, it’s not going to be good for regional stability.”

Some Democrats who voted against the spending bill said cuts to UNRWA were one of their main concerns. Others said they voted for the bill because it provides critical funding to the U.S. government, and they also expressed concerns about its potential impact on Gaza.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a briefing with UNRWA officials earlier this month in an attempt to halt funding The ban was called “unreasonable”.

“Denying funding to UNRWA amounts to denying food to the hungry and limiting the delivery of medical supplies to injured civilians,” he said in a statement.

Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) said Friday that he has become “very deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the Israeli military’s aggressive prosecution of the war” since receiving a classified briefing from the United States that morning. “. intelligence officer.

“No other entity is capable of transporting and distributing the amounts of aid needed to prevent famine in Gaza,” he said of UNRWA.

Many Republicans on Capitol Hill believe Hamas – whose operatives are believed to be hiding among civilians – bears full responsibility for the dead in Gaza.

Others in the Republican Party It was argued that other charitable organizations operating in Gaza could take over UNRWA’s responsibilities in the absence of US funding.

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“I have been pushing for years to ban UNRWA,” said Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rishi said there are “all kinds of non-governmental organizations” that can distribute aid in Gaza. He added that anyone who holds a contrary view “does not work in the same field as I do in foreign relations.”

Dill, of UNRWA’s Washington office, said such comments were “completely inconsistent with reality.” Other organizations in Gaza have only a fraction of UNRWA’s personnel, he said, adding “they have no experience and no recognition from the community.”

Without U.S. funding, UNRWA expects to run a deficit of about $350 million this year unless other countries pick up the slack, Diehl said. That would mean less food aid, fewer jobs and the closure of schools and clinics in impoverished Palestinian refugee camps across the region, including in deeply unstable Lebanon.

UNRWA has approximately 30,000 employees in the Middle East. “Now we can make payroll in May,” Diehl said. “But we’re going to have to live here month after month.”

“We store stuff in our warehouse. Our trucks are used for distribution,” Diehl said, describing the agency’s footprint. The World Health Organization “may bring the vaccine, but ultimately it is the UNRWA nurse who administers the vaccine to the child.”

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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