US to bypass UNRWA in new aid package to Palestinians

USAID will donate $53 million to the World Food Program and international NGOs instead.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it would be providing tens of millions of dollars of new humanitarian aid to Palestinians through organizations not including the discredited United Nations agency dedicated solely to their welfare.

Speaking in Jordan, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Samantha Power said, “Today I am announcing an additional $53 million in assistance, much of which will go toward food assistance” for the people of Gaza.

The funding will go to the World Food Programme, an international organization within the United Nations that provides food assistance worldwide, as well as other global NGOs, a USAID statement said.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will not be receiving any of the money.

The U.S. suspended funding of the Palestinian aid organization after receiving proof from Jerusalem that many of its Gazan employees were members of the Hamas terror organization.

Israeli intelligence also specifically documented a dozen UNRWA staff members’ direct involvement in Hamas’ October 7 surprise invasion and massacre of 1,200 people, which set off the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip.

Some 18 other countries also suspended their donations while the agency undergoes an internal and external review of its policies and conduct.

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The funding, said USAID, “supports trusted humanitarian organizations that are positioned to rapidly provide assistance to address growing needs in Gaza,” as well as those affected by the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in “the West Bank.”

Besides food and water, it will include “support [for] the operations of a field hospital,” and the delivery of “shelter materials such as blankets and tarpaulin sheets,” the statement added.

Without blaming either side of the conflict, Powers said there are several problems that had to be resolved in order to get the aid to the people who needed it.

“The aid workers who are on the ground in Gaza are risking their lives to get food to people in desperate, desperate need…. They have to know they can do their jobs without being shot at and killed,” she said.

There is video evidence of Hamas combatants taking over aid trucks and shooting at people to keep them away.

Powers also listed “bureaucratic bottlenecks and inspection delays,” and the limited number of access points into Gaza, which “has to grow significantly.”

There are currently two inspection stations at the Israeli Kerem Shalom and Nitzana Crossings into Gaza, which are the only ones equipped for cargo transfers.

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Trucks are checked there to see if they are illegally carrying weaponry in for Hamas along with their humanitarian aid.

The trucks then go on to the Egyptian crossing at Rafah, where they enter Gaza and international organizations take the aid further.

The USAID contribution will bring the total of American humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians to $180 million since the Israel-Hamas war began.