Canada to give $50M to UN Pales­tinian agency

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS I CANADA - MIKE BLANCHFIELD

OT­TAWA — Canada is con­tribut­ing $50 mil­lion to the United Na­tions Pales­tinian refugee agency — af­ter the United States de­cided to stop fund­ing what it called an “ir­re­deemably flawed” or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The new Cana­dian funds an­nounced Fri­day will be al­lo­cated over two years to as­sist the health and ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts of the United Na­tions Re­lief and Works Agency for Pales­tine Refugees (UNRWA).

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion de­cided in Au­gust to with­draw US$300 mil­lion in sup­port, end­ing the United States’ sta­tus as the largest donor for an or­ga­ni­za­tion that had been try­ing to help more than five mil­lion Pales­tinian refugees.

Is­rael has ac­cused the agency of be­ing bi­ased, fu­elling its con­flict with the Pales­tini­ans and pro­mot­ing ha­tred against the Jewish state.

Canada’s for­eign min­istry says the new funds will help bring sta­bil­ity to the re­gion by help­ing Pales­tini­ans cope with poverty, un­em­ploy­ment and food in­se­cu­rity. But it also says the money will as­sist UNRWA with “its on­go­ing ef­forts to im­prove neu­tral­ity within the agency and its op­er­a­tions.”

“This as­sis­tance demon­strates how Canada and UNRWA are work­ing to­gether to en­sure re­spect for the hu­man­i­tar­ian prin­ci­ples of hu­man­ity, neu­tral­ity, oper­a­tional in­de­pen­dence and im­par­tial­ity,” said a state­ment from Global Af­fairs Canada.

Canada is ear­mark­ing $40 mil­lion to­wards the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, health and liveli­hood needs of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees, es­pe­cially women and chil­dren.

An­other $10 mil­lion is aimed at help­ing 460,000 Pales­tinian refugees in Syria and Le­banon.

The new Cana­dian funds come two weeks af­ter the Eu­ro­pean Union pledged an ex­tra US$46 mil­lion to UNRWA to sup­port its health and ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices.

In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Marie-Claude Bibeau said Canada’s new con­tri­bu­tion would im­prove lives and “pro­tect the hu­man dig­nity” of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees.

“This new fund­ing to UNRWA is ur­gently needed, and it will bring some pre­dictabil­ity to the agency as the needs on the ground are in­creas­ing,” she said in a state­ment Fri­day.

Is­rael, mean­while, has praised the U.S. de­ci­sion to cut UNRWA fund­ing, which the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said was an “ir­re­deemably flawed” or­ga­ni­za­tion when it an­nounced its de­ci­sion at the end of Au­gust.

Jared Kush­ner, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s son-in-law and his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lead­ing Mideast ad­viser, said in an in­ter­nal email pub­lished by For­eign Pol­icy magazine that the agency “per­pet­u­ates a sta­tus quo, is cor­rupt, in­ef­fi­cient and doesn’t help peace.”

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