LEAP Statement on US Aid Cuts to UNRWA

LEAP Statement on US Aid Cuts to UNRWA

On January 16th, 2018, the United States federal government laid out its plans for a dramatic decrease in financial aid earmarked for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the principal United Nations authority providing basic services to Palestine refugees. The U.S. State Department has determined to withhold $65 million from its $125 million aid package. This is an over-80% decrease from 2017–an unprecedented amount–and one that will have a devastating and dangerous effect on millions of Palestine refugees throughout the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. UNRWA has long experienced a consistent decline in funding and services over the years, which has had a tragic impact on the refugee community. Further decreasing the already scarce and exhausted resources will lead to even more suffocating conditions for refugees who rely on this aid to fund schools and educational projects, for emergency food aid, for health and relief services, as well as general social services that provide the backbone of social infrastructure in Palestinian refugee camps.

As an organization dedicated to the education and socio-emotional empowerment of Palestinian youth in Lebanon, LEAP strongly condemns this action by the U.S. federal government. We call upon all conscientious persons to support Palestine refugees, be it financial, political, or simply by amplifying the call for support and raising awareness on the issue. Moreover, we call on U.S. political representatives to consider the implications of this decision, and to work to restore this truly essential funding.

While we recognize the politics of the international aid regime are not without critique, we reiterate that this cut to UNRWA will be devastating for the millions of refugees who rely on the agency for essential services. We further recognize that justice for the Palestinian refugee community is predicated upon UN Resolution 194 and honoring the right of return for all refugees. LEAP is committed to supporting justice for all refugees across all borders.

We call upon the LEAP community to show their support for UNRWA and take action in support of the Palestine refugee community.

Here are some ways to be in solidarity with UNRWA:

  1. Visit UNRWA’s Take Action page to learn more ways to meaningfully engage and support aid efforts for Palestine refugees;
  2. Donate to UNRWA or fundraise for UNRWA through a personal crowdfunding campaign;
  3. Tweet at the US Administration to #FundUNRWA – the administration and elected officials need to hear from us and see that we are opposed to their deplorable decision.
  4. Sign the petition in support of UNRWA: https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/i-want-the-united-states

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LEAP is a grassroots volunteer program established to provide educational empowerment projects to support the intellectual growth and creative curiosity of refugee-youth in Lebanon so they may become agents of change. As an apolitical humanitarian US-based organization, LEAP aims to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinian refugees in general, but particularly in Lebanon, to American volunteers.

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