Media CenterCatholic Relief Services Issues Statement in Support of Senate Resolution 171, Calling for a Restoration of Funds in the West Bank and Gaza

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Megan Gilbert
Catholic Relief Services
[email protected]
(443) 825-3640

As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) joins 17 other organizations to thank Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and the co-sponsors of Senate Resolution 171. The resolution calls on the administration to disburse money already provided by Congress for food, health and other projects addressing basic human needs to vulnerable families living in the West Bank and Gaza.

U.S. assistance to the region has been withheld for over 15 months. The administration froze all bilateral foreign assistance benefiting Palestinians, pending an administrative review of these programs. This review is still ongoing, and no clear criteria or timeline have been publicly communicated. Meanwhile, more than half the people in Gaza now live in poverty and hopelessness, and instability increases every day.

The resolution also speaks to the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA), which was passed by Congress in the fall of 2018 and has made it more difficult to provide U.S. funding to alleviate suffering in the region. While Congress never intended the law to affect humanitarian assistance delivered by non-government organizations, interpretations of the ATCA has led to the end of all U.S. government-funded humanitarian work in the West Bank and Gaza, including programs that help people find work, feed their families and access health care. Congress is actively exploring ways to address the challenge stemming from the ATCA, most recently in H.R 1837 introduced by Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL). 

For CRS, the ATCA has forced the closing of an emergency food assistance program, which had already been scaled back due to the ongoing administrative review. Several other organizations serving the Palestinian people have also been affected by the ATCA and the administrative review. We hope a solution is reached swiftly and funding is restored—the vulnerable people we serve can’t wait any longer.