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June 14th, 2016

Government must restore Palestinian refugee funding

Ottawa - NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Hélène Laverdière (Laurier - Sainte-Marie) called on the Liberal government to immediately renew contributions to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which helps Palestinian refugees in multiple countries. The previous Conservative government cut off all Canadian aid to UNRWA.

"In February, the Liberals seemed ready to resume contributing to UNRWA, and start reversing this damaging Conservative policy that began in 2009 and led to a complete cut off of aid in 2013," said Laverdière. "But in the months since, there has been no news from the Liberal government – while the crisis in the broader region has only increased the humanitarian need among Palestinian refugees."

UNRWA provides humanitarian aid to 5 million Palestinian refugees and is often the only source of assistance for these refugees, who are not eligible for assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). In addition to the devastating situation in Gaza, the crisis in Syria has meant that demand for aid is increasing elsewhere, including in Lebanon and Jordan.

"UNRWA is a lifeline for many Palestinian refugees, providing food, education, health care, and jobs. These supports contribute to greater stability and are very much in line with Canada's humanitarian agenda. The Minister should immediately renew Canada's support for UNRWA without delay," concluded Laverdière.