Defunding UNRWA is Collective Punishment

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) condemns Canada’s shameful decision to suspend further funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) while Palestinians in Gaza face the disastrous consequences of Israeli forces’ deadly assault. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on food security, famine is an inevitable consequence of such actions by Western states.

The Trudeau government’s decision was made despite the fact that the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its decision last Thursday, required Israel to take all available measures to prevent genocide in Gaza. In this same decision, the ICJ ordered Israel to ensure the immediate and full provision of all humanitarian aid necessary to protect the lives of survivors in Gaza.

Canada has not rescinded its currently planned funding of UNRWA, which comprises $60-million. But the fate of $25-million additionally pledged to UNRWA, to be paid in early April, remains unclear.

By potentially cutting future funds to UNRWA in this completely unacceptable way, the Canadian government is complicit in contravening the provisional measures taken by the ICJ.

We call on the Canadian government to immediately reinstate its commitment to funding UNRWA, the organization responsible for the majority of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip, including efforts to protect two million people from famine.

Nothing justifies this cruelty. Nothing justifies such disrespect of the fundamental principles of human rights.

Let us be clear: unverified Israeli allegations about the supposed activities of 12 employees while UNRWA employs more than 13,000 people in the Gaza Strip are no justification for collective punishment.

UNRWA risks losing its capacity to provide aid to residents of Gaza even as their situation grows increasingly dire.

The organization is a vital resource, a lifeline “which can collapse anytime now due to lack of funding,” according to the UNRWA Commissioner General.

We call on all Canadian citizens to condemn this appalling federal government decision and demand the immediate return of Canadian funding to UNRWA. •

Independent Jewish Voices Canada (IJV) is a grassroots organization grounded in Jewish tradition that opposes all forms of racism and advocates for justice and peace for all in Israel-Palestine. Follow them at IndJewishVoices.

Unions Demand Reinstatement of UNRWA Funding to Support Humanitarian Aid in Gaza

PSAC joins other Canadian unions, together representing more than two million workers, calling for the federal government to reinstate its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

In a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last week, PSAC, the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Unifor, United Steelworkers (USW), and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) urged the government to reverse its decision to suspend UNRWA funding.

The UNRWA is the main agency providing essential aid for Palestinian refugees in Gaza, and it has been supporting millions of Palestinians for over 70 years. Without the funding from large donor countries like Canada, it is likely to run out of funding by the end of February and will no longer be able to provide crucial humanitarian aid.

Cutting essential funding to the aid agency as the catastrophic humanitarian crisis worsens is a form of collective punishment against the people of Gaza, who continue to endure the unrelenting bombardment of civilians and the denial of water, electricity, medicine and food.

Denying UNRWA funding also goes against the measures issued by the International Court of Justice to ensure sufficient humanitarian aid continues to flow into Gaza.

We call on the Government of Canada to listen to humanitarian organizations and reverse the suspension of funding to UNRWA.

PSAC also continues to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and reinstate the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian relief. •

Read the full text of the letter sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.