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Dingell & Pocan Call to Restore Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

Washington, February 19, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC U.S. Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Mark Pocan (WI-02) today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, urging the administration to immediately restore all U.S. funding for humanitarian aid in Gaza, including United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) funding. The letter also urges an end to the blockade on the movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is untenable. Cutting US aid to Palestinians puts stress on the already stretched thin UN and non-profit humanitarian organizations struggling to provide access to water, food, employment, and healthcare,” said Rep. Dingell. “Further, cutting aid raises tensions and will make it more difficult to address the root causes of the conflict. The Administration must work with our international partners to restore humanitarian aid in Gaza, and reiterate our commitment toward a just, two-state solution.”

“Palestinians in Gaza are facing a humanitarian crisis and unless the United States acts now, we will be complacent in the starvation and poverty of millions of people,” said Rep. Pocan. “Eighty percent of the population in Gaza depends on international assistance to survive, and without our support that means an overwhelming amount of families are living in poverty and a majority of Palestinians in Gaza have undrinkable water, food shortages, and inadequate healthcare. Restoring U.S. assistance to Gaza as well as urging the Israeli government to end the blockade is a necessary step to secure a peaceful and stable future for the region.”

The letter was endorsed by numerous international groups, including J Street, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), OXFAM, Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), Friends Service Committee for Legislation (FCNL), Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), United Church of Christ, Amnesty International, Win Without War, the Reformed Church of America, and Christian Reformed Church Office of Social Justice.

Additionally the letter had 31 cosigners including Representatives, Don Beyer, Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, André Carson, Judy Chu, Danny K. Davis, Peter A. Defazio, Mark DeSaulnier, Ruben Gallego, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Raúl Grijalva, Deb Haaland,  Jared Huffman, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Dan Kildee, Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum, James P. McGovern, Gwen S. Moore, Ilhan Omar, Chellie Pingree, Donald M. Payne Jr., David E. Price, Bobby L. Rush, Jan Schakowsky, Jackie Speier, Rashida Tlaib, Paul Tonko, and Peter Welch.

The full letter is available to view below and online here.

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February 19, 2020

 

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

Department of State

2201 C St NW

Washington, DC 20520

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

We write to request that the administration take immediate action to alleviate the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza – and that you pursue a solution to the blockade policy that has contributed to this humanitarian and security crisis. 

In 2012, the United Nations (U.N.) reported that without any significant changes, Gaza will be unlivable by 2020. As we enter the new year, the continued deterioration of water and electrical infrastructure, medical systems, and other basic economic and social services bring Gaza closer to complete collapse. 

Since the decision to cut all U.S. humanitarian assistance to Palestinians, the U.N. and non-profit humanitarian organizations have struggled to meet the basic needs of Gazans. In fact, more than one million people in Gaza – half of the population – could face extreme hunger this winter.

These cuts to aid have only compounded the deterioration in Gaza over the past decade. In fact, today:

  • 97% of all water in Gaza is undrinkable due to deterioration of its only aquifer;[1]
  • Over 50% of people in Gaza are unemployed; [2]
  • 50% of children live below the poverty line, living on less than $2.00 per day;[3]
  • 80% of the Gaza population depends on international assistance to survive; and
  • 68% percent of Gaza’s population experiences moderate or severe food insecurity.[4]

This immediate crisis can be avoided with a resumption of bilateral U.S. assistance to Gaza as well as funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). 

In addition to resuming U.S. assistance to Gaza, we also urge you to support an end to the blockade of Gaza. While Hamas bears some measure of responsibility for the deteriorating situation, Israel’s continuing control of Gaza’s air, sea and borders, and its restrictions on the freedom of movement of people, legitimate goods and equipment in and out of Gaza, make the humanitarian situation worse and contribute to continued instability. The U.S. should also encourage Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to engage in a constructive way to solve the crisis in Gaza.

Even former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot has said a spiraling humanitarian crisis in Gaza increases the chance of violent conflict and is a threat to Israel’s security.[5] Restoring aid to Palestinians will begin to alleviate the crippling poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, and lack of access to adequate health, clean water, and electricity for the two million Palestinians in Gaza. With these changes, stability and hope for a better future can return, and security and safety will increase for both Palestinians and Israelis.

As we stated in our 2018 letter, we recognize the serious security and political challenges in Gaza.  However, U.S. support for the basic human rights of Palestinians living in Gaza must not be conditioned on progress on those fronts. For this reason, we strongly urge you to immediately restore all U.S. funding for humanitarian aid in Gaza, including USAID and UNRWA funding. Further, we ask that you push our partners to end the blockade on the movement of people and legitimate goods and equipment in and out of the territory, especially for materials and supplies related to critical projects like medicine, hospital supplies and water treatment.


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