MEDIA RELEASE: FSWC Response to Government of Canada Funding of UNRWA

November 16, 2016

Media Release

In response to today’s announcement by the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, of $25 million in total funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) President and CEO Avi Benlolo expressed his concern to government officials that UNRWA has been accused of corruption, the incitement of antisemitism and the shielding of Hamas, a recognized terror organization.  

In a change of approach, Canada's funding announcement includes "robust oversight mechanisms and an enhanced accountability framework including regular site visits; screening of UNRWA staff; strong anti-terrorism provisions in the funding agreement and training of UNRWA employees on appropriate and neutral use of social media."

In conversation with FSWC, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather noted, "We have funded after completing a full due diligence and discussion with our allies including the U.S. The agreement we have put in place has the most robust safeguards of any country funding UNRWA and is for one year only. We will review the results before any decision is made for next year."


The Embassy of Israel has also weighed in on this announcement and issued the following statement: “Israel is confident that Canada's contribution through UNRWA is aimed to offer humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in need. We feel reassured  that Canada remains mindful to Israeli concerns and will keep a close eye on where Canadian's money is going to, this due to past experience, when UNRWA schools were used to hide missiles and weapons for Hamas and other terrorist organizations, and senior members of UNRWA use and abuse the organization, in order to incite violence against the State of Israel and its citizens.”

"While FSWC views this renewed partnership with concern, all involved parties have taken a measured and seemingly responsible approach," Benlolo stated. “FSWC will continue monitoring the situation on the ground.”

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Contact
Stacey L. Starkman
Director of Communications & External Relations
416.864.9735 x 32 - office / sstarkman@fswc.ca 
Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is a leading Canadian non-profit human rights foundation directly representing over 30,000 members. FSWC is committed to countering racism and antisemitism and to promoting the principles of tolerance, social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and educational programs including workshops, Freedom Day, the Spirit of Hope Benefit, Tools for Tolerance and the widely acclaimed new Tour for Humanity. FSWC is affiliated with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights organization headquartered in Los Angeles, which has won two Academy Awards, has built two Museums of Tolerance (with a third being built in Jerusalem) and is an NGO at the United Nations, UNESCO, OAS, OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament. Visit us at www.fswc.ca
Canadian Headquarters: Toronto 
Branches: Los Angeles • New York • Chicago • Paris • Buenos Aires • Israel

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