Several European countries have announced the suspension of funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) following allegations that some of its staff were involved in attacks on Israel by Hamas.
The funding freezes by Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Finland have raised concerns about the agency’s ability to provide crucial support to Palestinians in Gaza.
This development comes after the United States, Australia, and Canada had already paused their support for UNRWA.
The allegations, made by Israel, prompted action from UNRWA, which immediately terminated the contracts of employees implicated in the attacks and launched an independent investigation.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini expressed deep concern about the impact of the funding suspensions on the agency’s humanitarian work, particularly in Gaza, where it plays a vital role in providing essential services and assistance to the population.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz called for the replacement of UNRWA with agencies dedicated to “just” peace and development.
However, Lazzarini and the United Nations defended UNRWA’s mission and underscored the agency’s commitment to accountability.
UNRWA, established to assist refugees from the 1948 war, operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, providing education, health, and aid services. The agency supports two-thirds of Gaza’s population and has played a critical role during the recent war by Israel.
The agency’s contributions have been crucial in providing lifesaving assistance, including food, medicine, shelter, and other vital support.