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Canada has not rescinded its currently planned funding of UNRWA, which comprises $60 million.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.