UN Urge Nations to Reconsider Funding Suspension For UNRWA

  • 31 Jan 2024

On 28th January, 2024, the United Nations called for a review of the decision to suspend funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), stressing potential repercussions for two million Palestinians in Gaza and strict action against implicated staff in the October 7 attack.

Key Points

  • Funding Suspension: The US and eight Western countries, major contributors to UNRWA's 2022 budget, cut funding after allegations of staff involvement in the October 7 attack, prompting UN officials to advocate for reconsideration.
  • Impact on Gaza: Two million Palestinians in Gaza depend on UNRWA services, facing potential reductions starting February if funding is not restored, exacerbating an already challenging humanitarian situation.
  • UNRWA's Purpose: Established in 1949, UNRWA aids Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. It operates in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, providing education, health, relief, social services, microfinance, and emergency assistance.
  • Refugee Services: Around 5.9 million Palestine refugees, primarily descendants of original refugees, access UNRWA's services. Over 1 million in Gaza seek shelter in UNRWA facilities, emphasizing its crucial role in the region.
  • Accusations against UNRWA: Israel accuses UNRWA of staff involvement in the October 7 attack, alleging Hamas funds diversion and conflicts near agency facilities. Claims include Hamas tunnels near UNRWA facilities and anti-Israel sentiments in UNRWA schools.
  • UNRWA's Response: UNRWA denies all allegations, terminating nine of the 12 accused staff members. It asserts no links to Hamas and pledges accountability for any employee involved in acts of terror, with one confirmed dead and identities of the other two being clarified.
  • Denial of Allegations: Former UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness characterizes the allegations as a "coordinated political attack" by Israel, asserting that disbanding UNRWA is seen by Israel as a prerequisite for victory in the Gaza conflict.
  • Humanitarian Crisis: UNRWA plays a crucial role in Gaza's humanitarian crisis, providing essential supplies. Without funding restoration, the agency faces an imminent shortage, impacting its aid work in the coming weeks.