The UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is under the international magnifying glass following Israel’s accusations that a dozen of its workers would have collaborated with Hamas and participated in the terrorist attacks on October 7 against the Israeli civilian population. Some attacks that led to a war that has now lasted more than three months.
What is UNRWA
UNRWA is the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East. The number of Palestinian refugees amounts to 5.9 million peoplealmost a quarter of the world’s refugee population.
The Agency is responsible for guarantee access to education, health, humanitarian aid and social services to the Palestine refugees. A population that lives in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Its financing comes – almost entirely – from contributions from UN member states. Currently, the agency cIt has more than 30,000 workersof which 99% have refugee status.
Which countries have suspended their financing
The first country to announce this Friday that it was suspending its funding to the Agency was the United States, followed by Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Romania and Japan, as well as the three Baltic countries.
The European Commission (EC), for its part, will wait for the progress of the UN investigation to make the appropriate decisions.
Which countries hold the funds
Of the rest of the States considered large donors – with contributions of more than 10 million dollars per year – only Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium maintain their gameslike Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwaitwho will not adopt measures for the moment, although they will continue to pay attention to the results of the open investigations.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is not in favor of sanctioning UNRWA and has asked the international community to do not discontinue your support of the agencysince “the alleged horrendous acts of these employees must have consequences,” but there are also “tens of thousands of people”about 30,000, who work for her and who should not be penalized.
This petition has been supported by twenty of the most important humanitarian NGOswho warn that if these suspensions are not reversed “we could witness a complete collapse of the already restricted humanitarian response in Gaza.”
The positions of countries and organizations in the last hours
These are some of the positions that countries and international organizations have adopted in recent hours:
The EC will determine the next funding decisions for UNRWA in light of the “very serious accusations made on January 24 in relation to the involvement of UNRWA personnel in the atrocious attacks of October 7,” the Executive said in a statement. community, which is one of the largest donors of humanitarian aid and development for the Palestinians of Gaza.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, José Manuel Albares, assured that the country “will not modify its relationship” with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, but will closely follow the investigation into the collaboration of some of its workers with the Islamist group Hamas.
The Austrian Government has announced that it is stopping its contribution to UNRWA. “Allegations that his staff were involved in the brutal Hamas terrorist attack of October 7 They are deeply shocking and extremely disturbing“, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has argued about that decision.
The Government of Romania suspends its voluntary contributions while the investigations last. “The complaints must be immediately and exhaustively investigated by the UN,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that until these are concluded there will be no “new voluntary contributions.” Baltic countries The three Baltic countries (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) have also suspended financing of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees, until the truth is known.
The Government of Switzerland stated that it was “extremely concerned” by the accusations that former UNRWA employees were involved in the attacks against Israel and indicated that paralyzes the games planned for 2024, waiting for the facts to be clarified. Japan Japan also joined the list of countries that have cut funding to the United Nations Agency, being “extremely concerned” about the alleged involvement of UNRWA staff members in the terrorist attack against Israel.
For its part, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia asked to “strengthen the review and investigation procedures” regarding these events. In a statement, he stressed “the importance of strengthening the review and investigation procedures of these accusations to draw conclusions from the facts together with the evidence” and recalled “the international repercussions” who is having this issue.
As for Israel, Foreign Minister Israel Katz canceled a meeting with UNRWA commissioner general, Philippe Lazzarini, and asked for his resignation for alleged support for terrorism. “UNRWA employees participated in the October 7 massacre,” Katz denounced on his official X account, where he urged Lazzarini to “draw conclusions and resign.”