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Friday, May 24, 2024

International Funding Freeze Heightens Crisis for UN Palestinian Refugee Agency

Countries such as the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, and Australia have expressed deep concern and temporarily paused funding, awaiting the results of the investigation.

The decision by some Western countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, Italy, and Australia, to temporarily suspend funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has triggered significant concerns and criticism from top Palestinian officials and the Hamas movement.

The move follows Israel’s accusations that UNRWA employees were involved in the recent Hamas attack. The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and other key figures have urged an immediate reversal, emphasizing the grave political and humanitarian consequences of halting support to the international organization.

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Israel’s allegations against UNRWA employees led to the freezing of funds by several Western nations. The UNRWA has responded by initiating an investigation into the accused employees, firing several staff members, and promising a comprehensive review.

UN Chief Antonio Guterres has pledged an urgent and independent inquiry into the matter. The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates sees the Israeli incitement as a premeditated campaign, with calls for reconsideration of actions against UNRWA by countries involved.

Countries such as the US, Canada, Italy, the UK, and Australia have expressed deep concern and temporarily paused funding, awaiting the results of the investigation. Israel, praising the decision to halt support, aims to shape a policy post-conflict to exclude UNRWA from future operations in Gaza. Foreign Minister Israel Katz emphasized garnering international support for this policy.

 

As the funding freeze unfolds, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza intensifies. The ongoing Israeli offensive, flouting international rulings, has resulted in substantial casualties and damage. Over 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, and more than 64,000 injured since October 7. The UN reports that 85% of Gaza’s population is internally displaced, facing severe shortages of essential resources, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed.

This funding suspension places UNRWA, already facing financial challenges, in a precarious position, further jeopardizing its ability to provide essential services to nearly six million Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The international community’s response to the investigation’s outcome will likely shape the future of UNRWA’s operations in the region.