Israel Resource Review 30th June, 2007


U.S. intends to donate $40 million to UNRWA's emergency appeal

Source: United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Date: 21 June 2007

Jerusalem Karen AbuZayd, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, today met with U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles to discuss the United States' intent to contribute $40 million to UNRWA's Emergency Appeal. Commenting on the donation AbuZayd said "We are immensely grateful for this generous contribution to our severely underfunded Emergency Appeal. It will benefit Palestine refugees in Gaza and in the West Bank who are facing unprecedented hardship at this time."

U.S. Consul General Jacob Walles said, "Our continued commitment to UNRWA illustrates our concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people, especially those in Gaza. This contribution will help ensure that Palestine refugees receive urgently needed food, health, and other critical emergency assistance. It will also support temporary job creation for nearly 100,000 refugees in the West Bank and Gaza."

One million refugees in Gaza live in a humiliating poverty, dependent upon UNRWA's food assistance. UNRWA's service structure is increasingly strained as the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate.

The United States, which is UNRWA's largest bilateral donor, contributed a total of $137 million towards the Agency's work in 2006. This latest donation from the United States follows its contribution of $10 million to UNRWA's Emergency Appeal earlier this year. The funds received will be used to provide food aid, temporary employment, health services and other emergency interventions to the refugees most gravely affected by the current crisis in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Agency needs $246 million for its 2007 Emergency Appeal. Taking into account this contribution from the United States, the remaining shortfall of the Emergency Appeal is $136 million.

UNRWA is a relief and human development agency, providing education, health care, social services and emergency aid to over 4.3 refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

For more information, contact Chris Gunness at +972-542402659 or Sami Mshasha at +972-542168295


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Congressional Appropriators want UNRWA review

Congressional appropriators want the U.S. Congress' investigative body to investigate whether UNRWA is paying terrorists.

A report accompanying the foreign operations spending bill approved last week by the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee sets aside $2 million for a General Accounting Office review of spending by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, the principle body assisting Palestinian refugees.

"The Committee directs the GAO to report to the Committees on Appropriations no later than eight months after enactment of this Act on whether any refugee who is receiving military training as a member of the so-called Palestine Liberation Army or any other guerilla type organization or who has engaged in any act of terrorism has received payments from the UNRWA Cash Assistance or Emergency Cash Assistance programs," it says.

Lawmakers in recent years have alleged that UNRWA has employed members of Hamas, a terrorist group. All that has been substantiated is that at least one person who left UNRWA's employment subsequently joined Hamas.

This appeared on the JTA wire on June 17th, 2007

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