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We, the undersigned faith and spiritual leaders, in keeping with the teachings of our faiths and spiritual traditions and driven by our moral mandate to safeguard and protect life, do hereby endorse and support the following statement. We call upon our political leaders to immediately take all necessary steps to fund UNWRA’s needs so as to stop to the mass starvation currently under way in Gaza where over two million Palestinian people depend daily on UNRWRA for survival, even as war and displacement continue.

UNRWA is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, provides 2.3 million Gazans with desperately needed education, health care, relief and social services, protection, camp infrastructure and improvement, microfinance, and emergency assistance, as well as humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees in East Jerusalem, the Occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The United Nations General Assembly established UNRWA in 1949 pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. Tens of thousands of Palestine refugees who lost their homes and livelihoods due to the 1948 conflict continue to be displaced and in need of support, over 75 years on.

Current Developments:
Given the genocidal destruction of Gaza by the Israeli military, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to stop killing Palestinians and requires that “Israel must take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” []

Immediately following this ruling, Israel began to target UNWRA, alleging that 12 of the agency’s employees were involved in the October 7 attacks by Hamas. Since then UNRWA has taken the immediate action of firing several employees of the 13,000 it employs in Gaza alone, and has requested that a transparent independent investigation of the allegations be conducted by the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative authority in the UN system. Nevertheless, the US Government, followed by several allies, has announced it is withdrawing all its life-supporting funding from UNWRA. The United Kingdom, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands have all frozen their support, with Japan and France also moving to delay and reduce their contributions to UNWRA.

Our Call:
We upon our fellow clergy and religious and spiritual leaders to join with us by signing unto this statement and to actively work to advocate for restoring and fully funding UNWRA among their networks, congregations, denominations, and all other people of conscience.

In particular we call upon President Biden to immediately restore America’s funding of UNRWA and not undermine the World Court orders demanding provision of humanitarian aid;

We further call upon our elected Congressional representatives here in America and elected Parliamentarians and elected officials across the globe to issue statement(s), emails, social media posts, and other communications urging President Biden and other world leaders to restore and fully fund UNRWA operations and humanitarian work.

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