The global #DignityIsPriceless campaign seeks to uphold the rights and dignity of Palestinian refugees in light of dramatic reductions to the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) recently announced by the United States ($60 million planned for this year; was over $350 million in 2017).

At stake is the access of 525,000 boys and girls in 700 UNRWA schools, and their future. At stake is the dignity and human security of millions of Palestine refugees, in need of emergency food assistance and other support in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. At stake is the access of refugees to primary health care, including pre-natal care and other life-saving services. At stake are the rights and dignity of an entire community.
Commissioner-General of UNRWA Pierre Krähenbühl

The Moderator of The United Church of Canada has written (see Downloads, below) to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie to ask that Canada join with other states to support UNRWA, and tell Palestinian refugees that their rights and future matter, by

  1. frontloading Canada’s 2018 contribution and as possible increasing funding to the agency, to ensure UNRWA services, particularly its 700 schools and 137 clinics, can be sustained throughout the year
  2. joining UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives

Join the Moderator in supporting the #DignityIsPriceless campaign.

Take Action

  1. Write to the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau at Marie-Claude.Bibeau [at] parl.gc.ca asking the Canadian government to increase its contribution to UNRWA. A sample letter is available under Downloads, below.
  2. Share this action with your networks. Use the hashtags #DignityIsPriceless, #ForPalestineRefugees, #UNRWA, and #UCCan.
  3. Post a picture of yourself on social media holding a paper sign with #DignityIsPriceless.
  4. Donate to the UNRWA campaign fund.

Background

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East is a United Nations agency established by the General Assembly in 1949 and mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees. Its mission is to help Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip achieve their full human development potential, pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. UNRWA services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection, and microfinance.

UNRWA is confronted with an increased demand for services resulting from a growth in the number of registered Palestine refugees, the extent of their vulnerability and their deepening poverty. UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary contributions and financial support has been outpaced by the growth in needs. As a result, the UNRWA program budget, which supports the delivery of core essential services, operates with a large shortfall. UNRWA emergency programs and key projects, also operating with large shortfalls, are funded through separate funding portals.

The United Church of Canada’s decades-long accompaniment of global partners in the Middle East reflects the church’s belief in the human dignity of all people, inspired by the theological vision that every human being is made in the image of God. The United Church has consistently advocated for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and a just, non-violent, negotiated approach to solving the conflict, based on UN resolutions and international law. Concern for the dignity and rights of vulnerable Palestinian refugees is a central priority.

Read a blog from United Church Moderator Jordan Cantwell, following her visit to Bethlehem last year.

For more information, contact:

Christie NeufeldtProgram Coordinator Public Witness416-231-7680 ext. 4078
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4078
cneufeldt [at] united-church.ca

Patti TalbotTeam Leader Church in Partnership416-231-7680 ext. 4018
1-800-268-3781 ext. 4018
ptalbot [at] united-church.ca