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Washington, D.C. — House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), Subcommittee on Oversight & Accountability Chairman Brian Mast (R-FL), Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations Chairman Christopher Smith (R-NJ), and Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) sent a letter demanding answers to reports that Hamas is diverting food, fuel, and supplies from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and that the agency has failed to address or prevent these thefts. In the letter, the Members note the United States is the single-largest donor to UNRWA and demand the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, appear before the committee to address the concerns of the American taxpayer.

“The ongoing war in Israel has exposed the troubling history of UNRWA aiding Palestinian terrorists and jihadists,” said Rep. Mast. “House Republicans will demand answers from UNRWA and make sure our tax dollars do not go into the hands of Hamas terrorists to be used against our ally Israel.”

“Make no mistake, antisemitic bigotry is at the root of the UN’s hostility to Israel, which is ugly, evil, and manifests itself in almost every UN entity, especially and including UNRWA,” said Rep. Smith, Chair of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee, who chaired a groundbreaking hearing on UNRWA in November.


The full text of the letter can be found here and below.


Dear Mr. Philippe Lazzarini,

As you know, the United States of America is the single largest donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In 2022, the Biden administration donated $344 million to UNRWA, and has continued to donate hundreds of millions of dollars throughout 2023 and during the Israel-Hamas war.

However, there have been a number of concerning reports that have called into question the very mission and effectiveness of UNRWA. Recently, the Israel Defense Force alleged that Hamas terrorists are stealing UNRWA food and supplies intended for humanitarian purposes.

Though UNRWA has denied these most recent allegations, diversion of food, fuel, and supplies by terrorist organizations, like Hamas, is not a new problem.

In fact, the risk of diversion in the region is so high that the USAID Office of Inspector General(USAID OIG) issued a fraud awareness alert after the Biden administration provided $100 million in aid through USAID, UN agencies, such as UNRWA, and other international NGOs. Specifically, USAID OIG stated its investigative priority is, “…to ensure that assistance does not fall into the hands of foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs) including, but not limited to, Hamas.

USAID OIG went on to say that it, “…has identified deliberate interference and efforts to divert humanitarian assistance in regions where FTO activity is prevalent … [t]his includes systemic coercion of aid workers by FTOs…”

We must be clear-eyed about the reality that diversion by Hamas is a real threat and one that is very likely happening with UNRWA aid. We also remain concerned by UNRWA’s repeated failure to uphold United Nations standards of neutrality in the agency’s operations in Gaza. Hamas tunnels have been found suspiciously close to UNRWA schools, as these terrorists continue to use children and their schools as human shields.

There have been blatant and repeated instances of UNRWA employees, including teachers, using anti-Semitic rhetoric and posting messages of anti-Israel hate on social media.

Assessments by NGOs continue to reveal anti-Israel content in educational materials used in UNRWA schools, which increases our concern that UNRWA, through this curriculum, has in some way aided Hamas’ call to destroy Israel (most recently, we have seen extremely troubling reports that an Israeli hostage was held in an UNRWA teacher’s attic after being kidnapped in the October 7th Hamas attacks).

Our constituents are horrified that their taxpayer dollars may have, through UNRWA failures, supported Hamas terrorists. Therefore, we request that you appear before the House Foreign Affairs Committee to answer our questions and address the concerns of the American people. We ask that you indicate your willingness and availability to appear before the Committee by no later than January 24th, 2024.