Trump administration to stop funding for UN Palestinian refugee program

Trump administration to stop funding for UN Palestinian refugee program

The Department of State on Friday announced that it would stop funding the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a United Nations body that gives out aid to Palestinian refugees.

The announcement comes just a day after the Washington Post reported that the administration was considering funding cuts over its concerns on the number of refugees recognized by the organization and how the organization spends its funds.

"The Administration has carefully reviewed the issue and determined that the United States will not make additional contributions to UNRWA," Heather Nauert, spokesperson at the department, said in a statement. 

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In her statement, Nauert said that the UNWRA's business model and fundamental practices were "unsustainable." She added that the group has been in "crisis mode" for years. 

"The U.S. will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation," she said. " We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business. 

"These children are part of the future of the Middle East.  Palestinians, wherever they live, deserve better than an endlessly crisis-driven service provision model.  They deserve to be able to plan for the future."

The Trump administration has also voiced problems with other countries' contributions to the fund, as well as Palestinian leadership's continued criticism of the U.S. 

"[T]here’s an endless number of refugees that continue to get assistance, but more importantly, the Palestinians continue to bash America,” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said, according to The Post.

“Where is Saudi Arabia? Where is the United Arab Emirates? Where is Kuwait?” she added. “Do they not care enough about Palestinians to go and give money to make sure these kids are taken care of?

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the decision from the Trump administration an attempt to put pressure on Palestinian authorities.

“After using humanitarian aid to blackmail and pressure the Palestinian leadership to submit to the empty plan known as ‘the deal of the century,’ the Trump administration plans to commit an immoral scandal against Palestinian refugees by giving itself the right to abolish [their] historical rights,” Abbas said.

The State Department said it would begin discussing new approaches for providing aid to Palestinian refugees with the U.N., host governments and international stakeholders.