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US cut to Palestinian humanitarian support is “reckless” says Trócaire’s CEO

By Cian Molloy - 02 September, 2018

Eamonn Meehan, executive director of Trócaire.

The decision by US President Donald Trump to stop funding humanitarian projects in Gaza and the West Bank has been branded “reckless” by Trócaire’s outgoing CEO, Éamonn Meehan.

The cuts by the United States administration include US$200m that went to charities providing medical care and humanitarian services in Palestine. Trócaire’s sister organisation in the United States, Catholic Relief Services, says the cuts mean that the number of people in Gaza that it supports with food has dropped from 150,000 to only 200.

This particular cut follows a decision by the Trump administration to end its annual US$350 million contribution to the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). This is the international body responsible for providing food and other basic supplies to five million Palestinian refugees in Israel’s occupied territories and in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The annual US contribution accounted for a quarter of UNRWA’s total budget.

“These reckless decisions made by ill-informed politicians have dire real-life consequences,” said Mr Meehan. “The inhumane fate of the Palestinians is largely due to the inaction of the international community. International aid is a life-line to Palestinians who live in prison-like conditions under permanent military occupation by Israel.”

While the US is cutting US$550m annual funding to Palestinians, it is continuing to give Israel US$3.8bn every year to spend on its military, said Trócaire’s chief executive, who is due to retire in two months’ time from his post as head of the Irish Church’s overseas aid agency.

Outlining the suffering of the Palestinian people, Mr Meehan said: “Only four percent of water in Gaza is safe to drink. Almost one in every two people in Gaza is unemployed. Eighty per cent of the population rely on international aid for survival. This latest move is further evidence of the disregard the US administration has for the lives of vulnerable people.”

Calling on his fellow countrymen to take action on behalf of the people of Palestine, Mr Meehan said: “Ireland needs to stand up to the US administration on this issue. The EU countries must ensure that the US does not cut off the Palestinian people’s life-line.”

President Trump is due to visit Ireland in November.

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