Ros-Lehtinen Comments on Report of Bias, Infiltration, Support for Hamas at UN Relief Agency for Palestinian Refugees Calls for Cutoff of Assistance Until Bias, Islamist Extremism Uprooted
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today commented on a report that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) fails to properly screen staff members and humanitarian aid recipients for links to Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The report, authored by UNRWA's former general counsel James Lindsay, also claims that top UNRWA officials frequently make biased statements in support of Hamas and against Israel, advance policies that only expand the ranks of refugees, and have failed to implement effective standards to prevent abuses. Lindsay concludes that while the U.S. is the agency's largest donor, UNRWA has "often clashed with U.S. policies" and that "changes will not occur unless the United States compels the agency to enact reforms." Ros-Lehtinen is the author of The United Nations Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act (H.R. 557), which conditions U.S. aid to UNRWA on that agency taking a number of steps to prevent its resources from supporting Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Statement of Ros-Lehtinen:
"For years, American assistance to UNRWA has undermined U.S. interests. These allegations, coming from a former UNRWA senior official, reinforce long-standing concerns that hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are being used to support violent Palestinian groups.
"Meanwhile, see-no-evil UN officials refuse to act to prevent aid from being compromised, and incessantly blame Israel while refusing to condemn militant Islamists.
"Now, UNRWA wants millions more from the U.S. at a time of increasing economic strain for American taxpayers. Congress should pass pending UN reform legislation that denies further U.S. assistance to UNRWA until that agency completely uproots bias and violent Islamist activity from within its midst."