U.S. reps want audit of refugee aid

U.S. Congress members will push Condoleezza Rice for accountability on relief funds for Palestinian refugee camps.

President Bush earlier this year requested $35 million in aid for camps in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, but since then the agency has come under intense scrutiny for its funding of potential terrorist organizations.

U.S. Reps. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Joe Knollenberg (R-Mich.) and Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) sent a letter to their colleagues in Congress Tuesday asking them to sign on to a letter to the secretary of state urging that the U.N. program, largely funded by the United States, be subject to an independent audit. The representatives intend to send the letter to the State Department by Dec. 21.

In March, The New York Times exposed an al-Qaida cell organizing in a U.N. refugee camp in Lebanon, and in April the United Nations acknowledged that cash assistance had been given to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers. On Oct. 29, video surveillance of a UNRWA-run school showed rockets being launched from the schoolyard toward Israel.

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