The administrator of USAID shares their perspective on the claims made by Israel regarding UNRWA.

On February 2, 2024, CBS News reported that the top U.S. official in charge of international development, Samantha Power, condemned the alleged involvement of employees of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Hamas’ attack on Israel in the fall of 2023. The attack resulted in over 1,200 deaths and hundreds of hostages.

In an interview with chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett on “The Takeout,” Power stated that anyone involved in the attack, including those who planned and executed it, deserves condemnation and punishment. The Israeli government has accused at least a dozen UNRWA employees of playing a role in the attack and the U.N. has launched an investigation. Several countries, including the U.S., have paused funding to the agency. Nine employees have been fired, one confirmed dead, and the other two are still being identified.

Power emphasized the importance of the U.N.’s internal investigation and the need for systemic changes within UNRWA. She acknowledged the challenges of ensuring accountability and addressing systemic failures, while also recognizing the desperate need for aid deliveries to Palestinian civilians. She also highlighted the dependence on UNRWA to distribute aid to refugees, with 3,000 employees still reporting to work out of the 13,000 employed in Gaza.

Power also addressed the ongoing discussions in Congress over a supplemental funding package for Ukraine, stating that it is vitally needed but not a blank check. She emphasized the need for tailored resources to help Ukraine and the importance of expanding humanitarian and commercial traffic into Gaza to meet the growing need for aid delivery. Power reassured that the U.S. is not turning its back on the people of Gaza and is actively looking for ways to increase assistance.  

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