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Report: US to continue UNRWA funding ban for another year

The agency's largest donor country paused its contributions in January after Israel revealed its terror ties, including to the Oct. 7 massacre.

A Palestinian man outside the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City protests cuts to aid on June 20, 2023. Credit: Anas-Mohammed/Shutterstock.
A Palestinian man outside the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza City protests cuts to aid on June 20, 2023. Credit: Anas-Mohammed/Shutterstock.

The United States ban on funding the U.N. Relief and Works Agency will continue until at least March 2025, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

Two sources familiar with an agreement reached on Tuesday between U.S. congressional leaders and the White House on a massive package of government funding bills confirmed that the one-year UNRWA funding freeze is included.

The deal avoids a partial government shutdown.

According to the sources, alternatives to UNRWA for providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza will be discussed after the legislation is made public.

The Biden administration suspended aid to the scandal-plagued, Palestinian-only refugee and social-services agency in January under the umbrella of the United Nations.

That suspension came after Israel claimed that a dozen UNRWA staff members had actively participated in Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, and amid accusations of deeper and broader ties between UNRWA staff and Gazan terror groups, including the employment of 450 terrorists from Hamas and other armed groups.

The United States is UNRWA’s largest donor, contributing $300 million to $400 million annually.

Seventeen other countries paused funding to the agency pending the results of investigations. The United Nations initiated an internal probe into the matter and former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna is leading an independent review.

However, Australia, Sweden, the European Commission and Canada have reinstated funding, drawing criticism from Jerusalem as none of the investigations have concluded.

Last month, the U.S. Senate voted to cut off funding for UNRWA as part of a $95 billion bill containing aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The legislative proposal, however, has been held up in the House of Representatives, Reuters reported.

During a visit to Jordan at the end of February, Samantha Power, the U.S. Agency for International Development administrator, announced that Washington will give an additional $53 million in humanitarian aid to the World Food Programme and international nonprofits for Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, and in Judea and Samaria.

“This brings the total amount of funding announced by the U.S. government since Oct. 7 to more than $180 million,” said Power.

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