March 21, 2024

Van Hollen Decries Prohibition of UNRWA Funding, Calls on Administration to Release Remaining Funds

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) released the following statement regarding the prohibition of funding for UNRWA – the U.N. agency primarily responsible for delivering aid to Palestinians in Gaza as well as additional services to Palestinian refugees throughout the region – until March 2025:

“UNRWA is the primary means of distributing desperately-needed assistance in Gaza – so denying funding for UNRWA is tantamount to denying food to starving people and restricting medical supplies to injured civilians. It also means cutting support for services – including schooling and health care – for over a million Palestinians in the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. I am deeply frustrated and disappointed by this ban on funding UNRWA at a time when the humanitarian support it provides is so desperately needed. As I have repeatedly stated, the serious allegations that up to 14 employees were involved in the October 7th terrorist attack against Israel must be investigated and those responsible must be held fully accountable. UNRWA was right to immediately terminate those employees and refer the matter for investigation by the UN’s highest investigative body. But to punish over 2 million innocent people in Gaza and UNRWA beneficiaries throughout the region for these actions is not just misguided – it’s unconscionable. I call on the Administration to immediately release current funding to UNRWA – as the EU, Canada, and others have done – in order to help prevent the famine that now sits at Gaza’s doorstep.”