Resolved, the House of _______ concurring, That the 79th General Convention strongly call upon the United States Government to maintain its historic commitment to alleviating the poverty of Palestinians and restore its full planned 2018 funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) so that it can continue to serve the over 5 million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria; and be if further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention also strongly call upon the United States Government to lift its funding freeze on United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programs which aid Palestinians.
UNRWA was created in 1949 to assist Palestinian refugees following the displacement from their homes in 1948 as a result of the Arab/Israeli war. In January 2018 the United States Government announced it would nearly halve the first installment of its pledged annual contribution to UNRWA, reducing that figure from $125 million to $60 million. Washington also mandated that none of the money could be used to support programs for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Syria. The United States subsequently blocked the distribution of an additional $45 million in emergency food aid for Gaza and the West Bank.
The freeze on U.S. Government funding is having devastating effects on Palestinians, including the over 460,000 refugees impacted by the war in Syria. Among the UNRWA health care providers is the Episcopal Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, visited by our Presiding Bishop in April. Because of the U.S. Government cut in funds, UNRWA is now only able to provide a quarter of the standard reimbursement to the hospital for the patients it treats.
In an emergency appeal for funds in May, Archbishop Suheil Dawani wrote: “Our Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza (AAH) had been literally working around the clock to serve the wounded from the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip.”
The American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem reported: “We visited Ahli in April, before the worst of the violence. The living conditions are appalling. The work of the doctors and staff is truly heroic. Al Ahli Hospital is located in the one of the most volatile places on earth. It is the oldest hospital in Gaza and the only remaining full-service independent hospital in Gaza. They welcome all, regardless of religious, ethnic or economic background and provide compassionate care to some of the neediest.”
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