Home Top News White House preparing in case Congress makes UNRWA funding pause permanent

White House preparing in case Congress makes UNRWA funding pause permanent


The White House is preparing for the possibility that Congress will permanently pause funding for the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians, known as UNRWA. 

Israel accused 12 employees of UNRWA, or the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, in January of participating in the deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, prompting the United States and more than a dozen other countries to temporarily suspend its funding for the agency. 

The U.S. government said it wants to see the results of the United Nations’ investigation into UNRWA employees allegedly taking part in the assault by Hamas terrorists that killed more than a thousand people and saw about 250 others taken hostage into Gaza before any decisions can be made on resuming contributions. 

‘The supplemental request that passed the Senate contained a prohibition on funding for UNRWA,’ State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at Tuesday’s daily briefing. ‘We obviously have a pause in place for funding for UNRWA right now. We have to plan for the fact that Congress may make that pause permanent. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, and we haven’t made any determinations with respect to what the administration will do because we’re waiting on the U.N. investigation. But just as part of prudent planning, we have to plan for all possible alternatives, so we have been exploring dealing with other humanitarian agencies that could deliver humanitarian assistance.’ 

‘We have to plan to be prudent to make sure there is no suspension of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people because we know that they desperately need it, and we are committed to delivering it,’ Miller added. 

If the U.S. lifts its pause, just $300,000 in funding would remain allocated for UNRWA, and any additional funding for the relief agency would need to be approved by Congress. As UNRWA’s largest donor, the U.S. usually contributes between $300-$400 million annually, Reuters reported. UNRWA employs more than 13,000 people in Gaza. 

‘Right now UNRWA plays a critical role in delivering humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians that no other agency is positioned to assume,’ Miller said Tuesday. ‘I don’t think it’s news that Israel has had issues with UNRWA. Those pre-date Oct. 7. They go back many, many years… But it doesn’t change our position with UNRWA and the important work they continue to do to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians who desperately need it.’ 

During the pause, the Biden administration has been exploring alternative organizations, such as UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP), to continue giving aid. 

Last month, the Senate passed a controversial $95 billion national security supplemental package to assist Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific. It contains a provision that would block funding from going to UNRWA. House Republican leadership have so far resisted pressure to bring the package to a floor vote. 

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