U.S. Aid Withdrawal Hits Arab Children

Bapist Times Staff


U.S. Aid Withdrawal Hits Arab Children | Baptist Times Staff, Foreign Aid, Palestine

The Princess Basma Centre for Disabled Children heard it would not be receiving a promised $100,000 for a community-based rehabilitation program for disabled children in the West Bank. (Photo: Basma-Centre.org)
Without warning, the United States has cut funding for several independent Palestinian Christian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), according to a Christian development charity based in the United Kingdom.

The charity, BibleLands, said a number of its partners have told it that funding from USAID, the U.S. government's aid arm, has been taken away.

BibleLands believes this is a response to the recent Palestinian bid for statehood.

Those affected include The Princess Basma Centre for Disabled Children on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, which two weeks ago heard it would not be receiving a promised $100,000 for a community-based rehabilitation program for disabled children in the West Bank.

BibleLands had previously agreed to partly fund this outreach project, which provides for the center's medics and therapists to train staff in community centers for disabled children in four Palestinian cities: Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarm and Jenin.

However, the charity diverted funds to other projects in the West Bank when the USAID grant was arranged.

The Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation (BASR), a local Christian NGO, had attracted USAID funding for a psycho-social intervention program with vulnerable and disadvantaged children, including training for child professionals and awareness-raising on child rights and child protection.

USAID had also agreed to support BASR's strategic planning process. However, this funding has been withdrawn recently without any notice or reason, according to BibleLands.

A Washington analyst has attributed the USAID decision to strong pro-Israeli lobbying.

"This is a scandal. There cannot be any sense or justice in the U.S. Congress 'punishing' disabled children in the West Bank just because their president had the temerity to ask for U.N. recognition of the Palestinian state," Jeremy Moodey, BibleLands chief executive, said.

"These are vital projects helping some of the most vulnerable children, and other NGOs including BibleLands were willing to provide funding but stepped back when USAID grants were secured," he said.

"U.S. lawmakers should perhaps take a look at their own Eighth Amendment, which guarantees proportionality between punishment and crime. This appears to have been ignored when it comes to disabled children in Ramallah and Nablus."

"This decision will deprive so many disabled children in the West Bank of the quality care they desperately need," said Maha Tarayra, deputy director of the Princess Basma Centre. "Disabled children will not go away, even if USAID funding does. America should think again."

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.