Blames Israel for Palestinian poverty and suffering
Established in 1981, Mercy Corps provides humanitarian assistance to people living in regions beset by war, internecine violence, and natural disasters. From 1981 through 2006, Mercy Corps provided $1 billion in assistance to people in 82 nations. Maintaining headquarters in North America, Europe, and Asia, the organization's unified global programs employ 3,200 staff worldwide and reach nearly 10 million people in more than 40 countries. As of 2006, Mercy Corps' projects extended to Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Colombia, East Timor, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, the Gulf Coast of the United States, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Pakistan, Serbia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Uganda, Uzbekistan, West Bank/Gaza, and Zimbabwe.
With regard specifically to the Arab-Israeli conflict, Mercy Corps places all blame for Palestinian poverty and suffering directly on Israel. In one report, Mercy Corps claims: "As a result of the severe restrictions placed on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, the UN and other agencies have identified serious micronutrient deficiencies among Palestinian children." The report provides no evidence that this situation is due to Israeli policies, and makes no effort to examine Israeli measures aimed at alleviating Palestinian suffering. In a second example, Mercy Corps claims: "Over the past decade, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) began implementing a closure system in the West Bank to regulate Palestinian movement … through a series of roadblocks and military checkpoints. In the past three years access and movement for Palestinians within the West Bank has been crippled by more than 700 IDF barriers and checkpoints. The massive wall the Israeli Government is building will further separate Palestinian communities, sever social and economic links and block access to critical health and education services."
Mercy Corps objects to the fact that Hamas’ landslide victory in the political elections of January 2006 triggered a halt in Israeli tax transfers and a moratorium on most international aid to the Palestinian Authority. “As a result,” said Senior Director of Program Operations Jim White in June 2006, “wages to 73,000 teachers, healthcare workers, policemen and other municipal workers in Gaza — more than one-third of its workforce — haven't been paid since February. Poverty rates are expected to hit 74 percent without these salaries … Tightened borders have added to Gaza's economic woes. … Stocks of wheat flour are ‘critically low’ and there are fears that basic commodities will soon dry up, according the World Food Program … The looming humanitarian catastrophe threatens the well-being and security of most of Gaza's 1.3 million residents, as well as the prospects for Middle East peace.”
The founder of Mercy Corps is Dan O'Neill, who in 1999 co-founded the Save the Refugees Fund, an emergency relief task force to assist Cambodian refugees. He also served on the White House Cambodian Crisis Committee at the request of Rosalynn Carter, wife of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
Neal Keny-Guyer has been Mercy Corps’ Chief Executive Officer since 1994. He was formerly a Field Coordinator for CARE/UNICEF, and spent nine years as Director of Save the Children’s Middle East, Europe and North Africa programs.
Nancy Lindborg has been the President of Mercy Corps since 1996. She also currently serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign, a Board member of the ONE Campaign, Co-Chair of the National Committee on North Korea, and Chair of the InterAction North Korea working group.