Latest News 31-01-2024 01:03 14 Views

Biden delivered $121M in taxpayer funds to Hamas-tied UNRWA since October, State Department says

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Since October, the Biden administration has sent about $121 million in taxpayer funds to UNRWA, the U.N. agency under scrutiny for its alleged ties to Hamas, the State Department said Tuesday.

A remaining $300,000 in appropriated funds for this fiscal year was supposed to be delivered to the humanitarian relief organization in the next few weeks. But the U.S. froze those funds over allegations that some UNRWA members participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller. 

'That funding has been suspended,' Miller told reporters at the State Department daily press briefing. He added that it's 'impossible' to say how much more the U.S. could provide to UNRWA this fiscal year if the funds are unfrozen because the government is operating under a continuing resolution. 

'We don't know how much overall funding will be available for this fiscal year, and that would impact how much that we would be able to provide UNRWA,' Miller said. 'Historically, we have typically provided somewhere between $300 and $400 million a year in funding.' 

The Biden administration has sent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to UNRWA, reversing former President Donald Trump's decision to cut funding to the group. Biden officials say the funds provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people, while critics say the group is 'effectively a branch of Hamas.'

UNRWA's ties to Hamas have come into focus in recent weeks after Israel provided the Biden administration with a new dossier containing information about how some 13 agency staffers allegedly assisted or supported the Hamas terror attacks on Oct. 7.

The Biden administration announced last week it has temporarily paused 'additional' funding to UNRWA in response to the dossier. Germany, Italy, Australia, Finland, Netherlands and Switzerland have also joined the boycott following the accusations, which have already resulted in the termination of multiple staffers.

Miller said the next expected payment to UNRWA would happen over the summer and that the amount would depend on how much money Congress approves for the agency in Biden's $106 billion supplemental package request.

Despite the terrorism allegations, the White House has defended UNRWA, insisting that the entire agency should not be judged by the purported actions of 13 people.

'We very much support the work that UNRWA does, we think it's critical,' Miller said. 'There is no other humanitarian player in Gaza who can provide food, medicine at the scale that UNRWA does. 

'We want to see that work continued, which is why it is so important that the United Nations take this matter seriously, that they investigate it, that there is accountability for anyone who is found to engage in wrongdoing, and that they take whatever other measures are appropriate to ensure that this sort of thing cannot happen again,' he said.

Fox News Digital's Peter Aitken and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.

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