1.2m Palestinians face devastating humanitarian crisis because of US aid block

Middle East Monitor  /  September 7, 2023

Twenty-three civil society organizations have warned of “a devastating humanitarian crisis” unless the block placed by Republican lawmakers on aid destined for Palestinians is lifted. As many as 1.2 million Palestinians are said to be on the brink of food crises because of infighting between lawmakers in Washington.

“A devastating humanitarian crisis looms with more than 1.2 million people potentially left without food as early as mid-September, including hundreds of thousands of children who will be left hungry,” the 23 civil society groups, which include Arab, Jewish, Muslim and Christian organizations, said.

“Denying food assistance to Palestine refugees is inconsistent with your announced initiative on food insecurity and will strip away the last vestiges of hope for people who simply yearn for a dignified existence,” they added.

The warning of an imminent food crisis came on the back of a warning issued by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). The group said that it would not be able to refill its warehouses if the funds were not provided by 1 September.

Leading Democrats in both houses of Congress recently pushed the Biden administration and the Republicans to lift their hold on the aid amid growing concerns about the looming humanitarian crisis that could spark further violence.

Last week the US State Department said that it wants to see $75 million in food aid for Palestinian refugees freed up.

Hard-line pro-Israeli lawmakers, Sen Jim Risch and Rep Michael McCaul, the top Republicans on the Senate and House of Representatives foreign relations committees, have been accused of playing politics with the lives of Palestinians. Since late July they have blocked the State Department from providing funds to the United Nations body.

UNRWA has been a frequent target of Republicans and Israelis. After he assumed office, President Biden reversed ex-President Donald Trump’s efforts to squeeze off funding to the UN agency and Palestinians generally.

Republicans have sought to force concessions from Palestinians by threatening to withhold life-saving aid. Despite handing $3.8 billion to Israel annually, no concession is demanded from the occupation state despite its daily human rights abuses and practice of apartheid.