CJPME: New UNRWA Funding Good, But More Action Needed

unrwa2018.pngMontreal, October 15th, 2018 — Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) applauds the Trudeau government’s decision to expand funding to the UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). Last Friday, Minister of International Development Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that Canada will provide $50 million in multi-year funding to Palestinian refugees through UNRWA, as well as $12.5 million to Right to Play International. While CJPME believes this is a healthy step toward bridging a funding gap for Palestinian refugees, Canada must work seriously toward a long-term solution for Palestinian refugees.

When the Trump administration cancelled US funding to UNRWA, CJPME recommended that the Canadian government join its allies and increase funding to UNRWA.  CJPME welcomes Canada’s new aid announcement and the humanitarian needs and potential economic help it can provide. However, CJPME notes that much of the economic deprivation suffered by Palestinian refugees is systematic, and largely a result of Israel’s decades-long colonization and collective punishment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. As a friend and ally to Israel, Canada should pressure the Netanyahu government to end its brutal occupation of the Palestinians, especially its blockade of Gaza.  Canada must also encourage the Trump administration not to abandon all funding to UNWRA before a viable solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict has been implemented.     

CJPME points out that as the gavel-holder for the Refugee Working Group, Canada has an international responsibility to lead the effort to find a long-term solution for Palestinian refugees. CJPME urges the government to uphold this responsibility to reinvigorate international attempts to find a long-term solution for Palestinian refugees, and to ensure Palestinian refugees do not become totally destitute in the interim. CJPME President Thomas Woodley stressed, “To truly improve the situation facing Palestinian refugees – which is the result of political conflict – Canadian humanitarian commitments must be accompanied by a political commitment to reach a viable permanent solution for Palestinian refugees.”

When UNRWA began operations in 1950, the agency served 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were displaced, dispossessed and expelled from their homes by Jewish militias in 1947-1948. Since then, generations of Palestinian refugees have been born stateless in refugee camps, continuing to live their lives in limbo, awaiting an international diplomatic solution. Today, UNRWA provides basic education, health, and social services to 5 million Palestinian refugees who reside mostly in the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

About CJPME – Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME) is a non-profit and secular organization bringing together men and women of all backgrounds who labour to see justice and peace take root again in the Middle East. Its mission is to empower decision-makers to view all sides with fairness and to promote the equitable and sustainable development of the region.

For more information, please contact Miranda Gallo, 438-380-5410
Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East www.cjpme.org

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