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The US has politicised humanitarian aid over Palestine

TJI Pick
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Published: 30 April 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

An interview with Peter Mulrean, of the United Nations agency in charge of Palestinian refugees, about what cutting US aid to the program will mean for the world

IN JANUARY OF 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted, "...we pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect." Later that month, the Trump administration announced that it would cut over A$100 million in aid—not to the Palestinian Authority, but to Palestinian refugees.

The A$100 million came out of the budget of the United Nations agency in charge of providing critical aid—schools, hospitals, and food—for the world's 5.4 million Palestinian refugees, who represent 20 percent of the global refugee population.

Less than a year after the initial funding cut, the Trump administration announced in August of 2018 that it would cut $300 million more in aid to the refugees, the entirety of the United States' commitment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

Since 1949, UNRWA has cared for the Palestinian families forced to flee their ancestral homes during the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. First created to care for people who had fled the original violence, UNRWA now provides basic services to the original refugees, their children, and their grandchildren.

When the second cut was announced, the Department of State accused UNRWA of being an "irredeemably flawed" organisation. But just a month prior, the department had signed an agreement saying the US was "committed to continuing its partnership with UNRWA."

FULL STORY How humanitarian aid became politicised (Pacific Standard)

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Photo: A Palestinian woman sits with a child after receiving food supplies from the UN offices in the Khan Younis refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip, February 11, 2018 (AFP/Said Khatib)

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