GOP Lawmakers: Defund UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
By Theodore Bunker | Friday, 21 January 2022 02:38 PM
Republicans are calling on the Biden administration to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which provides assistance to and maintains the welfare of Palestinian refugees.
In a letter addressed to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republicans led by Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, claimed that "giving money to UNRWA is an egregious use of taxpayer money, harms our interests in the region, and endangers key allies."
According to the agency’s website, the UNRWA provides Palestinian refugees with "education, healthcare, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance and emergency assistance, including in times of armed conflict."
The Republicans go on to accuse the agency of having "an extreme bias against Israel and helps perpetuate the conflict by constantly demonizing Jerusalem."
They also claim that the UNRWA "is poorly managed, facing numerous corruption scandals, including sexual misconduct, improper use of funds, retaliation against whistleblowers, and nepotism."
The group calls on Blinken to "immediately reverse" the decision to provide the agency with $99 million in addition to the $150 million the Biden administration gave last April.
"We urge you to immediately reverse this decision and cut funding to UNRWA. Additionally, we advise you to take action to use the U.S.’ influence at the United Nations General assembly to push to end UNRWA’s mandate, which is set to expire in 2023."
According to the UNRWA’s estimates, there are currently more than 2.3 million Palestinian refugees living in poverty, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a threat to their health and well-being.
"The amount that UNRWA is requesting for 2022 will directly contribute to the well-being of Palestine refugees, to efforts to combat and contain COVID-19 and to regional stability," the UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini, said in a press release earlier this week.