Canada announced on Thursday it will donate up to $25 million to the United Nations Relief and Works (UNRWA) which helps so-called “Palestinian refugees”, its Minister of International Development and Marie-Claude Bibeau said.
B'nai Brith Canada expressed concerns over the move, saying it would share those concerns with the Canadian government.
"Palestinian refugees deserve the right to be able to go to a school, receive proper health care and get other basic services. Canada’s renewed engagement is part of our long-standing commitment to a more peaceful and stable region," Bibeau said on Thursday in a statement quoted by the Sputnik news agency.
The bulk of Canada's aid package to UNRWA — $20 million — will go toward helping UNRWA provide basic education, health and livelihood needs for millions of Palestinian refugees, particularly women and children, the statement said.
The remaining $5 million in assistance will go toward UNRWA's Syria Emergency Appeal, which provides life-saving assistance to more than 480,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria and Lebanon, added Bibeau.
UNRWA was documented storing Hamas rockets and weapons "designed to kill Israeli citizens" in its schools, a fact which the UNRWA chief admitted himself. The organization has actively taken part in inciting anti-Semitic violence.
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 several months ago it would restore the funding.
B'nai Brith Canada said in a statement following Thursday's announcement that it “continues to have serious concerns about UNRWA.”
"Helping impoverished Palestinians in various Arab countries is certainly a positive, as many individuals do require assistance," said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B'nai Brith Canada. "However, according to a new report, UNWRA continues to facilitate anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel. UNWRA's highly-politicized environment actually obstructs the best possible service to the Palestinians."
Mostyn said B'nai Brith will engage the Government on this issue. While he said the organization is pleased that the Government has introduced anti-terrorism provisions, he also said it remains concerned about the prevention of indoctrination and incitement, which frequently lead to violence.
"While we appreciate the enhanced due-diligence process announced by the Government for UNRWA funding, we have yet to be convinced that this has led to neutrality within the agency and its operation," Mostyn said.