On Friday, Fobzu joined 14 UK NGOs to issue a joint statement responding to the US announcement to stop funding UNRWA, the UN agency established to support Palestinian refugees, and called upon the UK government to defend their rights now under severe threat:

As a group of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations working to support the rights of the Palestinian people, we are deeply concerned by the implications of the US’ decision to end all funding to UNRWA and call upon the UK government to demonstrate its support for the agency and the Palestinian refugees it serves at this critical time.

UNRWA is mandated by the General Assembly to provide humanitarian relief, human development and protection of the rights of more than five million Palestinian refugees across Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and the occupied Palestinian territory, pending a just and lasting resolution to their plight. The US’ funding cuts amount to a reduction of nearly a third of UNRWA’s operating budget, and thus critically endanger its ability to fulfil its mandate, jeopardising vital services, including health clinics, social services, and more than 700 schools providing education to 526,000 Palestinian refugee children. The cuts demonstrate a dangerous politicisation of aid, and are part of an unprecedented attempt to undermine the international legal consensus on the protected status of Palestinian refugees.

We call upon the UK government, with its unique historical relationship with the Palestinians as the Mandatory Power when the displacement of the majority of the Palestinian people began in 1947-1948, to work to end UNRWA’s financial crisis so that it can fully exercise its UN mandate. While we welcome the UK’s announcement of some additional funding to UNRWA this year, we call on the government to expand its financial support further and encourage its partners to do the same. The UK must show principled leadership on this issue, working to ensure UNRWA services are maintained and the rights and dignity of Palestinian refugees upheld, and opposing any and all attempts to undermine international law as pertains to the status of Palestinian refugees and the rights of the Palestinian people.

The statement was endorsed by the following 15 organisations:

ABCD Bethlehem

CAFOD

CARE International

Christian Aid

Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu)

Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine & Israel (EAPPI) – UK & Ireland

Embrace the Middle East

Friends of Birzeit University (FOBZU)

Friends of Nablus and the Surrounding Areas (FONSA)

Interpal

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR)

Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)

Quakers in Britain

War On Want

Welfare Association

ACT NOW

Tweet or email your MP today with this statement and urge them to sign, if they have not already done so, Early Day Motion 1156, “United Nations Relief and Works Agency”, which “calls on the Government to work with international partners to fill the funding gap left by the US Administration and ensure that vital front-line services are not put at risk by this reckless unilateral withdrawal of support“.

You can find your MP’s contact details here.

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