The Biden administration finally cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), but not before the damage was done to the tune of over a billion dollars in grants. Several foreign governments, along with the Biden administration, halted funding to UNRWA after it was revealed on Friday that several staffers participated in the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel that killed 1,200 civilians and took hundreds of others hostage.
Former President Donald Trump cut funding for the UN group during his time in the white House knowing it was not serving as aid. The Biden administration re-established its funding in 2021 for hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reports:
The Biden administration said in 2021 that the former Trump administration’s decision to suspend aid “harmed” the Palestinian population, and promised to start meeting “its humanitarian obligations,” according to The Times of Israel.
“President Biden has been clear that he intends to restore U.S. assistance programs that support economic development programs and humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people,” then-acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills said in January 2021, according to The Associated Press.
The Biden administration subsequently granted $338 million to UNRWA’s various programs in 2021, accordingto the agency’s donor charts. The administration granted UNRWA over $343 million the following year.
As of September 2023, the Biden administration had granted UNRWA $296 million for the year, nearing the billion-dollar mark in less than three years, according to U.S. Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield. By November 2023, the Biden administration had granted UNRWA over a billion dollars since Biden took office in 2021, according to Lu.
Just two years later and the Biden administration cannot ignore that the agency has significant ties to terrorism. “In addition to the several staffers who participated in the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks, over a thousandstaffers were discovered to have ties to Hamas or Islamic jihadist terrorist groups” adds DCNF.
The administration said this pause would go into effect while an investigation into the matter is underway, claiming that UNRWA “plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians” despite proof that it does not.
However, while future U.S. funding for UNRWA is paused, the agency can still access all existing funds it has collected or has been granted from the Biden administration prior to Friday, a State Department spokesperson told Pluribus.
U.S. intelligence agencies have previously warned that funding provided to UNRWA for Palestinian aid had a risk of being diverted to Hamas. The Biden administration was aware of these warnings and chose to grant funding anyway.