More than 25 public figures, among them Emma Thompson, Eric Cantona, Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Will Self have signed a statement urging the Trump administration not to cut crucial humanitarian aid funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency working with Palestinian refugees. The full text of the statement follows:
Dignity is Priceless
We wish to express our horror at the unprecedented attack on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) by US President Donald Trump. This UN institution was set up almost 70 years ago specifically to protect, and provide urgently required humanitarian relief, to Palestinian refugees. So the real target of this lethal attack is the Palestinian people themselves. It has been launched with the clear aim of dismantling their rights, by dismantling the institution that is charged with protecting them.
UNRWA was established in 1949 by the UN General Assembly, to safeguard the Palestinian victims of the 1948 war, after their country and society were destroyed, and the majority made refugees. The United Nations recognises the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; the same rights afforded to all peoples of the world. We wish to highlight here the fact that Palestinians' human rights include their internationally recognised rights as a people. These rights are inherent, so cannot be removed by brute force, or alienated from them.
2017 closed with the US President's announcement of his intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, ripping up the internationally recognised rights of Palestinians to their land, while attempting to impose a 'peace plan' that destroys all hope for peace. 2018 opens with President Trump's new attempt to force Palestinians to accept this grossly unfair 'deal', by threatening and endangering the international agency responsible for their basic needs as refugees. It is repellent to us that such tactics are being used in the 21st century, in direct contradiction of international law, and to human decency. Demanding the surrender of basic human rights, and from a people without a country to protect them, is truly shocking to witness.
Directly threatened by this American funding cut are millions of Palestinian refugees: more than half a million children in over 700 UN schools; primary health care for mothers, infants, and the sick; those requiring urgent emergency food assistance especially in Gaza and Syria.
We stand for dignity for the most vulnerable, and we stand with Palestinian refugees who are facing a terrible moment. We call on the UN Secretary General to immediately convene a conference that can establish a stable funding system in order to protect UNRWA's vital work. Peoples across the world have always supported the Palestinian struggle for freedom, and understand that Palestinian refugees - the most vulnerable - are the key to hope, and to any chance of a peaceful future.
Andrew O'Hagan; Antony Gormley; Bella Freud; Brian Eno; Claire Foy; David Morrissey; Emma Thompson; Eric Cantona; Esther Freud; Gary Lineker; Gillian Anderson; Hanif Kureishi; Hugh Grant; James Fox; Jemima Khan; Karma Nabulsi; Ken Loach; Laura Bailey; Mary McCartney; Olivia Wilde; Paul Laverty; Peter Gabriel; Peter Kosminsky; Stephen Frears; Steve Coogan; Tilda Swinton; Tracey Emin; Vanessa Kirby; Viggo Mortensen; Will Self.