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February 28, 2024

Pressley, Jayapal, Carson, Raskin, Colleagues Call for Full UNRWA Funding

Text of Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), André Carson (IN-07), and Jamie Raskin (MD-08), and 46 Members of Congress in calling for full funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to provide urgent humanitarian relief to Gaza.

“We write to express deep concern about Congressional proposals to prohibit US funding for humanitarian relief to Gaza through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). We take the allegations against a dozen UNRWA employees very seriously and support the proactive steps that United Nations Secretary-General Guterres and UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini are taking in response to these allegations, including the termination of the named employees, and an immediate investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services. We also strongly agree with Secretary-General Guterres that, should these allegations be substantiated, the UN will cooperate with competent authority to fully prosecute these individuals and make sure they are held accountable for their actions,” the members wrote.

In the letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committees’ leadership, members underscored the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the need for the U.S. to continue to appropriate funds to support UNRWA’s important work.

“Over 3,000 UNRWA employees continue to work under the most difficult of circumstances, having already lost 150 staff to the war, the largest mass casualty event of UN workers in the organization’s nearly 80-year history. North of Wadi Gaza, UNRWA reports there are around 300,000 civilians remaining, many of whom are likely starving. They note that it has been impossible to get fuel in and nearly impossible to get food across the checkpoints. In the south, UNRWA has had an easier time providing food, but hygiene conditions have pervasively deteriorated,” the members concluded.

The United Nations (UN) established UNRWA to provide basic humanitarian needs to displaced Palestinian refugees, including food, water, and shelter. More than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed since the October 7th terrorist attack and millions are at risk of starvation, disease, and death from lack of medical care. Blocking funding for UNRWA will only perpetuate this humanitarian crisis and lead to further loss of life. 

The letter was signed by Representatives Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Donald Beyer (VA-08), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Cori Bush (MO-01), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Greg Casar (TX-35), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Danny Davis (IL-07), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Lloyd Doggett (TX-37), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), Al Green (TX-09), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Henry “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Daniel Kildee (MI-08), Summer Lee (PA-12), Teresa Leger Fernández (NM-03), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), Betty McCollum (MN-04), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Gwen Moore (WI-04), Eleanor Norton (DC-00), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Delia Ramirez (IL-03), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Melanie Stansbury (NM-01), Mark Takano (CA-39), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Maxine Waters (CA-43), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

A copy of the letter can be found here.

Throughout this conflict, Rep. Pressley has been a vocal and consistent advocate of diplomacy, de-escalation, and saving lives.

  • Rep. Pressley joined Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and their colleagues on a resolution condemning Hamas’ brutal attack and hostage-taking, and demanding Hamas immediately release all hostages.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and 50 colleagues on a letter condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel, calling for Israeli military operations to follow the rules of international humanitarian law, and continuing to work toward peace in the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in announcing a resolution urging the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. She later joined her colleagues and a multi-faith, multiracial coalition of faith leaders and organizers for a prayer and press conference to renew their calls for a ceasefire. Rep. Pressley also joined dozens of rabbis and Members of Congress for a press conference to renew calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she condemned antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate on college campuses.
  • Rep. Pressley joined a coalition of nearly 100 interfaith clergy and faith leaders on a joint statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and nearly 150 colleagues in urging the State Department to use all tools at its disposal help get Americans out of Israel and back home to the United States. She applauded the State Department for heeding her calls on October 12, 2023 and continues to press for the urgent evacuation of Americans in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley issued a statement following the safe evacuation of Massachusetts constituents Wafaa and Abood Okal and their one-year-old Yousef from Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley and Rep. Jamie Raskin led a group of 60 House lawmakers in urging the State Department to affirm the United States’ strong opposition to the forced and permanent displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, and to support an increase in humanitarian aid to the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Betty McCollum (MN-4) and 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to protect the one million children living there.
  • Rep. Pressley joined a coalition of interfaith clergy and faith leaders for a vigil to mourn the tens of thousands of Palestinians, Israelis, and innocent civilians killed since October 7th, and to renew calls for a ceasefire to save lives, return all hostages, and deliver humanitarian aid to the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues to condemn the Israeli government’s pending invasion of Rafah and continued her calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.