UNRWA facilities, southern Gaza
UNRWA facilities, southern GazaFlash 90

Jewish groups in Canada on Wednesday called on the Canadian government to suspend funding to UNRWA following the publication of a UN ethics report which found mismanagement and abuses of authority at the highest levels of the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees”.

Joel Reitman, Co-Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said, “Contrary to reports, Canada’s funding commitment to UNRWA was fully paid out last year – and there is no new funding on the horizon. This is why we are calling on the Government of Canada to impose a total moratorium on new funding for this tainted agency until a full investigation is completed and real change is implemented. This would be in keeping with similar announcements this week by the Dutch and Swiss governments.”

CIJA Co-Chair Jeffrey Rosenthal added, “Over the years, we have raised alarm bells about UNRWA’s disturbing record and the danger of donor funds being abused. Like an overwhelming majority of Israelis, we desire not only peace and security for Israel but a better future for Palestinians. These latest allegations confirm that UNRWA continues to betray this cause. It’s time for countries like Canada to take action.”

B’nai Brith Canada similarly demanded that the Government of Canada immediately suspend its support for UNRWA in the wake of the report.

“This week’s revelations are just further evidence of why Canadian taxpayers should not be footing the bill for this organization in its current state,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “While supporting Palestinians most in need is a laudable goal, there is abundant evidence that UNRWA schools are indoctrinating Palestinian children toward antisemitism and eternal war, rather than peace and tolerance.”

“The latest reports of mismanagement and abuse only add to our serious concern. Canadians would never tolerate this level of mismanagement in a domestic charity or arm of government – so why are we bankrolling it overseas?”

The previous Canadian government, headed by Stephen Harper, stopped the funding to UNRWA, but the current Liberal government, headed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced in 2016 it would restore the funding.

In 2017, the Trudeau government announced a $20 million aid package to UNRWA, the bulk of which was meant to help UNRWA provide basic education, health and livelihood needs for millions of Palestinian refugees, particularly women and children.

In late 2018, after the US cut its funding to UNRWA, Canada announced $50 million in funding for the organization.

Switzerland on Tuesday said it was suspending funding to UNRWA over the damning report. The Netherlands followed Switzerland on Wednesday and suspended its contribution to the organization.