For Immediate Release: February 7, 2018
Faith groups to President Trump: restore UNRWA funding
Fourteen religious groups say cuts will have devastating impact
WASHINGTON, DC - On February 6, 2018, fourteen Christian denominations and organizations sent a letter to President Donald Trump calling on him to reverse the recent U.S. decision to cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
“UNRWA provides vital funding to millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the Middle East,” said Michael Merryman-Lotze, Middle East Program Director at the Quaker group American Friends Service Committee. “Funding cuts will have a devastating impact on already vulnerable communities.”
The U.S. government announced in January that it would cut $65 million from a $125 million aid package to UNRWA, a drastic cut to assistance for Palestine refugees in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.
The faith groups expressed concern about the politicization of humanitarian aid. “The U.S. government has long maintained that ‘a hungry child knows no politics,’” according to the letter. “Humanitarian aid must be provided to civilians on the basis of need alone, not used as a way to attempt to extract concessions from political leaders.”
The letter also connected the cut to UNRWA funding to other threats to Palestinian human rights: “the effort to withhold funds from UNRWA appears to be part of a series of actions to deny basic rights to Palestinians—in this case, their fundamental rights as refugees under international law.”
The signatories of the letter are: Alliance of Baptists, American Friends Service Committee, Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Mennonite Central Committee U.S., Office of Social Justice; Christian Reformed Church, Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Reformed Church in America, United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries, and United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.