The Canadian government is pledging to contribute up to $10 million in emergency humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees. The government says this will help meet “urgent humanitarian needs” by providing food assistance to over one million people living in the West Bank and Gaza and other essential humanitarian assistance. The announcement came during a donor conference in Rome at which the agency administering aid to Palestinians said new pledges would help but are not enough to assure its long term outlook.
U.S. has withdrawn millions in aid to Palestinians
The funding crisis was largely caused by the U.S. Trump administration which has cut tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for Palestinian refugees. The U.S. donates about $350 million a year to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) but so far this year it has only given $60 million. In January, U.S. President Donald Trump said the U.S. would only provide aid if Palestinians renewed peace talks with Israel. The talks have been suspended since 2014 and Palestinians say negotiations are pointless unless Israel stops building Jewish settlements on occupied territory. The UN says the settlements are illegal and “a flagrant violation under international law.”
Trump also demanded UNRWA undertake a “fundamental re-examination.”
Canada assures humanity, neutrality
In contrast, the Canadian government news release notes that it will “continue to exercise enhanced due diligence regarding its funding and assist the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in its ongoing efforts to improve neutrality within the agency and its operations.
“This assistance underlines how Canada and the UNRWA continue to work together to ensure respect for the values of the United Nations and the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, operational independence and impartiality.”
The statement adds that by helping to meet the humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees, Canada contributes to stability in the region.