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Senate bill redirects US aid from UNRWA to other agencies for humanitarian assistance.

Biden Administration Plans to Redirect UNRWA Funds to Other Agencies, Says State Department

Biden Administration’s Plan to Redirect UNRWA Funds

The Biden administration revealed its plan to redirect any funds intended for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to other aid agencies working in Gaza if Congress passes legislation that would prohibit funding for the main U.N. agency for Palestinians. State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel made the announcement on Monday, highlighting the administration’s commitment to ensuring humanitarian aid reaches those in need.

Temporary Pause in Funding and Congressional Bill

Washington had previously announced a temporary pause in new funding to UNRWA while investigating claims that a dozen staff members participated in attacks on Israel. A bill introduced by senators on Sunday included a provision to block the agency from receiving funds made available by the bill, reflecting growing concerns within Congress about UNRWA’s activities.

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Redirecting Funding to Other Agencies

Patel stated at a press briefing that the bill, which was negotiated by the Biden administration and a bipartisan group of senators, included $1.4 billion for humanitarian aid for Gaza. He emphasized that these funds could be redirected to other reputable aid organizations such as the U.N.’s World Food Program (WFP) and UNICEF, ensuring that assistance continues to reach Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Impact of Funding Suspension on UNRWA

The State Department revealed that it had provided $121 million to UNRWA in the current fiscal year, with only $300,000 of appropriated funds remaining for the agency. This funding suspension has raised concerns within UNRWA, as the agency warned that it might be forced to shut down its operations by the end of February if funding does not resume. The potential consequences of this funding pause are significant for the Palestinian refugees who rely on UNRWA’s services.

Future Plans and Engagement with Donor Countries

While the U.S. has historically supported UNRWA for its critical work as the main aid agency for Palestinians, the Biden administration is keen on seeing concrete results from UNRWA’s investigation into the allegations. Patel emphasized that discussions with donor countries about supporting UNRWA will continue, underscoring the administration’s commitment to finding solutions that ensure essential humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.

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