Why President Trump Cut Funding to UNRWA

Palestinian refugees in 1948

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Soon after President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of the nation of Israel, he also announced that he would cut U.S. funding of aid to Palestinians. The funding of which he spoke is channeled through the UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency.

The U.S. has been contributing $150 million of regular funding annually, by far the most significant share of the total funding of the agency. The total U.S. funding of the UNRWA in FY2017 was $355 million. In 2018 the U.S. contribution will be reduced by $60 million.

The UN High Council for Refugees (UNHCR) oversees the protection of refugee relief worldwide, resettling 17 million refugees in 130 different countries.

However, the UNRWA was established in 1949 to, specifically and temporarily, deal with assisting Palestinian refugees following the refusal of their home countries to allow their return. The Palestinian refugees are the only group to have the assistance of an entire UN agency.

In 1951, a Special Report of the Director and Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, specifically said, “There must be a firm goal of terminating relief operations. Sustained relief operations inevitably contain the germ of human deterioration.”

A recent article in Newsweek observed, “Since 1950, NHCR has tried to place refugees in permanent new situations, while since 1950 UNRWA has with its staff of 30,000 “helped” over 5 million Palestinian “refugees” to remain “refugees.””

  • The UNRWA staff is three times larger than the UNHCR
  • The U.S. contribution to UNRWA is nearly three times more than all Arab nations combined. (Arab nations are the ones from whom the “Palestinians” are refugees.)
  • The number of “Palestinian” refugees has not been reduced by the funding or activities of the UNRWA. The population in 1950 was near 750,000. Today, about five million people are eligible for UNRWA assistance.

Critics will cite the difficulties that the reduced funding will create for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, the world must deal with the reality that the more funding that is directed into these areas, the less money the Palestinian Authority and Hamas will have to use funds to build rockets, terror tunnels, and provide pensions for the families of suicide bombers and other terrorists.

The president’s reduction in funding the UNHWA does not affect the U.S. funding of the UNCHR, of which it provides about 40 percent.


Al Jazeera, US cuts UNRWA funding by more than half

The Washington Examiner, US support for UNRWA has gone on long enough

Newsweek, Trump is right to cut off aid to Palestinian ‘refugees’

Reuters, In Gaza, UNRWA chief says U.S. aid cut risks more Mideast instability

The Jewish Policy Center, How UNRWA Supports Hamas

Photo Source: Fred Csasznik [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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