Trump Administration’s Cuts to Palestinian Aid May Strain Catholic Organizations

The U.S. announced it would withhold $100 million in relief from the U.N. Relief Works Agency, arguing that other countries must share more of the costs of providing assistance.

Courtesy of Michele Chabin, National Catholic Register

JERUSALEM — Franciscan Sister Bridget Tighe, the new director of Caritas in Jerusalem, is deeply concerned about the Trump administration’s decision to withhold more than $100 million in funding to the U.N. Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), which has been supporting Palestinian refugees for 70 years.

Agencies that receive funding from UNRWA may have even more reason for concern.

Michele Bowe, president of Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, which is located within the Palestinian Authority, said that 40% of the hospital’s patients are refugees.

“UNRWA gives us a small reimbursement for care. In light of the U.S. funding cuts to UNRWA, it is lowering the amount of money it is paying us. This will impact our budget,” the hospital administrator said.

Bowe noted that Bethlehem has three refugee camps, so the already-depressed local economy would take a hit if UNRWA lays off many of its 30,000 workers.

“It will create more unease and unemployment. The Christians, who are mostly in the hospitality business, will be hurt the hardest” by violence and unrest that scares away pilgrims, Bowe said.

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