WCC regrets USA withdrawal from UN relief for Palestinian refugees

By agency reporter
September 4, 2018

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has expressed deep regret over the decision by the government of the USA to withdraw all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian Refugees.

“This is effectively a decision to abandon the Palestinian refugee population and to block them from the realisation of their inalienable human rights and legitimate aspirations for the future – including a viable two-state solution”,  said WCC general secretary, the Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit. “As such, we consider the decision immoral and unjust, driving Palestinian refugees to more hopelessness, despair and desperation.”

The WCC called on President Trump to reverse this course of action, for the international community to increase their commitment to supporting Palestinian refugees, and for the UN to prioritise maintaining essential humanitarian services in this context.

UNRWA is a UN agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees, and currently offers services encompassing education, health care, social services, camp infrastructure, food assistance and microfinance to over 5.4 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

UNRWA’s 711 schools enable 526,000 Palestinian girls and boys to receive quality education, and its almost 150 medical clinics provide essential health care to the refugee population. The United States has consistently been the largest donor to UNRWA.

“The US decision to withdraw all funding for this collective responsibility through UNRWA is a serious politicisation of humanitarian aid”, added Tveit. “The responsibility for this protracted refugee crisis does not lie with UNRWA, but with the parties to the conflict and with the international community for their abject lack of will or ability to bring about a just peace in the region.”

* Read the WCC's full statement here

* The World Council of Churches promotes Christian unity in faith, witness and service for a just and peaceful world. An ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948, by the end of 2012 the WCC had 345 member churches representing more than 500 million Christians from Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other traditions in over 110 countries. The WCC works cooperatively with the Roman Catholic Church.

* World Council of Churches http://www.oikoumene.org/en

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