President Joseph R. Biden
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

The Honorable Michael Johnson
Speaker of the House
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Senate Majority Leader
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear President Biden, Speaker Johnson, and Leader Schumer, 

We, the undersigned 103 immigrant, refugee, human rights and humanitarian organizations, write to express our alarm and deep disappointment following Congress’s decision to reinforce and codify the Biden Administration’s suspension of U.S. funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the principal aid provider for millions of Palestinian refugees in Gaza and in the surrounding region. Suspending funding during a humanitarian catastrophe, widespread starvation and looming famine is a moral and strategic failure that abandons nearly two million displaced Palestinians during a period of extreme need. We call on Congress to urgently introduce and pass legislation and for the President to support reinstating funding to UNRWA.

For over six decades, the United States has been one of the strongest supporters of UNRWA, including its largest bilateral donor. Without U.S. support, UNRWA cannot effectively carry out its role as the largest humanitarian agency in the region. Currently, UNRWA is working to provide life-saving assistance to Palestinians in Gaza who are facing extreme malnutrition, starvation, and an outbreak of deadly diseases due to Israel’s ongoing bombing campaign and deprivation of aid. To date, over 34,000 Palestinians have been killed and tens of thousands more injured without access to functioning hospitals or appropriate medical care. The situation in Gaza is extraordinarily dire, and the need to ensure civilian protection and humanitarian relief is crucial. 

Cutting off funding to UNRWA completely erodes the international community’s ability to respond to one of the worst humanitarian crises of our time. International NGOs and other UN organizations have repeatedly stated that they do not have the personnel, resources, or infrastructure to respond to the humanitarian needs in Gaza appropriately. Continuing UNRWA operations is imperative to address and alleviate the ongoing crisis. There is no debate that UNRWA’s ability to provide services, including food, water, medical assistance, and protection, is irreplaceable and essential to the survival of Palestinians in Gaza, especially now as famine is imminent. 

Furthermore, prohibiting funding to UNRWA not only affects Palestinians in Gaza, but also harms over three million Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria who depend on its services for shelter, education, financial assistance, access to healthcare, and more. Palestinian refugees are excluded from receiving any protection or other assistance from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which is mandated to provide aid to all other refugees globally. Thus, UNRWA is the primary entity serving this population and has effectively been doing so since its establishment over 75 years ago. UNRWA’s unique experience, knowledge, and expertise within the region and with the Palestinian refugee population is indispensable.

Following allegations by Israeli officials that 12 members of UNWRA’s staff in Gaza had taken part in the October 7 attack against Israel, 16 countries–including the United States–halted their funding of the critical organization. UNRWA took immediate action in investigating the allegations and removed the accused staff. A newly released report following an independent review for the UN reveals that Israel has yet to provide any evidence to substantiate the initial claims. While investigations continue, Australia, Canada, Japan, the European Commission, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland France, and Germany have all recognized that UNRWA remains the only entity with capacity to ensure safe and effective delivery of aid and services in Gaza on the scale the current situation requires, and have resumed their funding.

UNRWA employees have risked their lives to fulfill their mission of providing aid during Israel’s continued bombardment in Gaza. As of April 24, 180 UNRWA staff members have been killed which is “the highest number of aid workers killed in the history of [the] organization in such a short time,” according to the Director-General of the U.N. office in Geneva. Due to the near-impossible circumstances, the Agency has struggled to provide food, medicine, and clean water to the approximately one million displaced Palestinians seeking refuge in or around 154 UNRWA shelters. Now, with the loss of vital funding from the United States, UNRWA’s humanitarian aid operations will inevitably collapse, and Palestinians in Gaza and elsewhere will continue to suffer grave consequences. 

The United States should uphold its commitment to the human rights of the Palestinian people and resume its role as a strong supporter of UNRWA by passing legislation to reinstate funding to the humanitarian agency immediately. Failing to do so would be a moral stain on this Administration and Congress’s legacy.


18 Million Rising

Acacia Center for Justice


African Communities Together 

Al Otro Lado

Alliance of Baptists

American Baptist Churches USA, Bright Stars of Bethlehem

American Friends Service Committee

American Muslim Bar Association 

American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Americans for Peace Now

Amnesty International USA

Arab American Civic Council

Arab American Institute (AAI)

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC)


Black Alliance For Just Immigration

Boat People SOS (BPSOS)

Border Butterflies Project 

Bridges Faith Initiative

Carolina Peace Center


Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)

Center for Gender & Refugee Studies

Center for International Policy

Center for Security, Race and Rights

Center for Victims of Torture

Charity & Security Network

Church World Service

Civic Ark

Climate Refugees

Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)

Communities United for Status & Protection (CUSP)

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Defending Rights & Dissent

Demand Progress Action

Detention Watch Network

Disciples Center for Public Witness

Disciples Peace Fellowship

Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Washington DC

Emgage Action

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Every Campus A Refuge

Faith in Texas

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Haitian Bridge Alliance

Hindus for Human Rights

Hope Border Institute

Human Rights First

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Immigrant Legal Resources Center

Immigrants Act Now

Immigration Law & Justice Network

Innovation Law Lab

International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)

Islamophobia Studies Center

Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Middle East Democracy Center

Minnesota Peace Project


MPower Change Action Fund 

Muslim Advocates

Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative (MuslimARC)

Muslim Justice League

Naser Immigration Law, LLC

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Council of Churches

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Iranian American Council Action

National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)

National Partnership for New Americans

NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Nonviolent Peaceforce

Oasis Legal Services

Oxfam America

Palestine Legal

Peace Action 

People’s Action

Presbyterian Church (USA), Office of Public Witness

Project ANAR

Project South

Refugee Congress

Refugees International

ReThinking Foreign Policy

South Asian SOAR

Tahirih Justice Center

The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy (TIMEP)

The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)

United Church of Christ

UNRWA USA National Committee 

Utah Health & Human Rights

We Are All America (WAAA)

Welcoming America

Win Without War

Wind of the Spirit Immigrant Resource Center

Witness at the Border

Women’s Refugee Commission