INTRODUCTION OF UNRWA INTEGRITY ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 152, No. 51
(Extensions of Remarks - May 03, 2006)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E712-E713]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  INTRODUCTION OF UNRWA INTEGRITY ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                         HON. MARK STEVEN KIRK

                              of illinois

                    in the house of representatives

                         Wednesday, May 3, 2006

  Mr. KIRK. Mr. Speaker, I am introducing the UNRWA Integrity Act of 
2006 with Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA). This bill ensures that 
American taxpayers are not funding terrorism through contributions to 
the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in 
the Near East (UNRWA).
  UNRWA was created in 1949 as a temporary agency to provide relief 
services to Palestinian refugees. It is the only United Nations agency 
dedicated to one specific group of refugees. The United States is the 
UNRWA's largest donor, contributing more than $2 billion since 1950. In 
2005 alone, the United States donated $108 million, constituting nearly 
a fourth of UNRWA's annual budget.
  Yet, there is a startling lack of accountability over UNRWA's 
financial activities. An analysis of UNRWA's most recent internal audit 
performed by the United Nations Board of Auditors finds vague summary 
totals. Account after account in this audit describe line items as 
``Cash Assistance'' or ``Unearmarked Contribution.'' At least $43 
million of UNRWA's budget is undefined. As American taxpayers, we are 
entitled to better accounting standards.
  With Hamas' rise to leadership of the Palestinian Authority, we must 
ensure that contributions to UNRWA do not end up in the hands of 
terrorists. This is no idle concern. UNRWA was suspected in terrorist 
activity involving terrorists using UNRWA ambulances to transport 
weapons. Furthermore, UNRWA employees use their posts to run for office 
on Hamas' ticket. When questioned on Hamas candidates working for 
UNRWA, the Commissioner General refused to comment.
  The UNRWA Integrity Act ensures money designated for humanitarian 
assistance does not fall into the hands of terrorists. The bill 
requires the President must certify to Congress that UNRWA is subject 
to comprehensive financial audits by an internationally recognized, 
independent auditing firm; does not knowingly provide employment, 
refuge, assistance or support of any kind to members of foreign 
terrorist organizations; and is not an impediment to finding a lasting 
solution for Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza. The bill

[[Page E713]]

also calls upon the State Department to assess the prospect of phasing 
out services provided by UNRWA, and examine anti-Semitic bias in 
UNRWA's educational material.
  Tying future U.S. assistance to UNRWA to an independent, 
internationally recognized expenditure audit will ensure U.S. taxpayer 
money does not support terrorist organizations like Hamas. I want to 
thank my good friend Congressman Tom Lantos for being the lead co-
sponsor of this legislation. I look forward to working with him and my 
other colleagues on this bill to bring accountability to UNRWA. By 
doing so, we can take positive steps towards solving the refugee 
problem without allowing U.S. dollars to fall into the hands of 
terrorists.

                          ____________________