US cuts $25 million in aid to Palestinian hospitals

Newsfeed - The Levant

by Meghan Bodette

   

The Trump administration has cut a $25 million program that provides aid to hospitals in East Jerusalem, in the latest of several funding cuts to foreign aid programs related to Palestine. 

"At the direction of the President, we will be redirecting approximately $25 million originally planned for the East Jerusalem Hospital Network,” a State Department official told Reuters. “Those funds will go to high-priority projects elsewhere.”

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hospitals in the East Jerusalem Hospital Network are "the main providers of tertiary referral care for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for health services for which the Ministry of Health is unable to provide, such as cancer care, cardiac and eye surgeries, neonatal intensive care, children’s dialysis and physical rehabilitation of children." 

Palestinians already faced significant obstacles to medical treatment before the cuts. Many are blocked from traveling to access the care they need by Israeli authorities. Pollution and lack of access to electricity and clean water compound the effects of otherwise treatable diseases and injuries. The violence of occupation also directly harms the physical and mental health of Palestinians. A WHO report from 2018 noted that "exposure to violence has an immediate impact on health" in Palestine, with 900 people permanently disabled in 2014 alone and 312,000 children currently in need of "psychosocial support". 

In August, the US announced that they would no longer fund the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is a significant provider of medical care to Palestinian refugees. 

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