Dingell, Lowenthal Lead 56 Members of Congress in Calling for Palestinian Humanitarian Relief, Support of Current Ceasefire
Washington, May 21, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) led 56 of their colleagues in calling on Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to provide additional humanitarian relief for Palestinians and work to support the current ceasefire. The letter requests that the Administration, in addition to working to sustain the ceasefire, support increased humanitarian access to Gaza by urging Israel to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings and fully and robustly fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
“We are alarmed by the recent hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, which represent the worst conflict in the region in years,” wrote the lawmakers. “We thank the administration for its work to secure the current ceasefire, and urge you to use all diplomatic tools to support its implementation and continuation.”
“Any civilian loss of life is a tragedy, and we are mindful of the unique challenges presented by the situation in Gaza, which will require urgent action to prevent an escalating disaster,” continued the lawmakers. “It is now urgent that we address the burgeoning humanitarian crisis while working toward a durable ceasefire and long-term steps to promote a sustainable, lasting peace in the region.”
In addition to Dingell and Lowenthal, the letter was signed by Representatives Sara Jacobs, André Carson, Jamaal Bowman Ed.D., Lloyd Doggett, Earl Blumenauer, James P. McGovern, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Paul D. Tonko, Jamie Raskin, Peter Welch, Nydia M. Velázquez, Pramila Jayapal, Jared Huffman, Mark Pocan, Gerald E. Connolly, Ayanna Pressley, Mondaire Jones, Ed Perlmutter, Raúl M. Grijalva, Jennifer Wexton, Bobby L. Rush, Jahana Hayes, Veronica Escobar, Donald S. Beyer Jr., Marie Newman, Maxine Waters, Joaquin Castro, Judy Chu, Mike Thompson, Andy Levin, Anna G. Eshoo, Mark Takano, Jan Schakowsky, Ro Khanna, Daniel T. Kildee, Jackie Speier, Mark DeSaulnier, Donald Payne, Jr., Teresa Leger Fernández, Alma S. Adams, Ph.D., Bill Foster, David E. Price, Marcy Kaptur, John Yarmuth, Bennie G. Thompson, Danny K. Davis, Mike Doyle, Chellie Pingree, Peter A. DeFazio, Jason Crow, Jesús G. “Chuy” García, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Dwight Evans and Jerry McNerney.
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
Dear Secretary Blinken:
We are alarmed by the recent hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians, which represent the worst conflict in the region in years. We thank the administration for its work to secure the current ceasefire and urge you to use all diplomatic tools to support its implementation and continuation. We are concerned about the lack of respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians in the conflict; we condemn Hamas’s rocket attacks and have grave concerns regarding the impact of Israel’s airstrikes in a densely populated area. Any civilian loss of life is a tragedy, and we are mindful of the unique challenges presented by the situation in Gaza, which will require urgent action to prevent an escalating disaster.
It is now urgent that we address the burgeoning humanitarian crisis while working toward a durable ceasefire and long-term steps to promote a sustainable, lasting peace in the region. We request you take three immediate steps:
1. Work to sustain the current ceasefire: This will allow for emergency relief distribution, emergency repairs to essential infrastructure, and for families to purchase food and water, seek medical care, and attend to other emergency needs.
2. Support humanitarian access: Urge Israel to open the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossings so that critical humanitarian personnel, including a trauma coordinators and security advisors, can enter and emergency relief items can be brought in to address the growing needs of the civilian population. The United Nations (UN) also needs to evacuate non-essential international staff.
3. Fully and robustly fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA): UNRWA is by far the largest humanitarian actor in Gaza. While the administration has provided UNRWA with $150 million to date, this falls far short of historic funding levels. The administration must fund UNRWA at not less than 2017 levels ($360 million) as well as robustly support its forthcoming emergency appeal, following all applicable US laws and vetting standards for recipients and implementing organizations.
With nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, it is civilians who are bearing the brunt of this conflict. Over 60 children have been killed and more than 71,000 civilians have sought protection inside of UNRWA’s schools, hoping all parties to the conflict will continue to respect the neutrality of the UN’s installations. For Gaza’s children who have lived their entire lives under military blockade, they have now experienced the terror of living through yet another violent conflict.
In addition to the work that you are doing to support the current ceasefire, we strongly urge you to step up the United States’ humanitarian engagement to save and protect innocent lives.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.