Why the United States Halted Funding to the UN’s Palestinian Refugee Agency

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The secretary-general of the United Nations is pleading with the US and different key governments to resume support.

The United Nations company that serves Palestinian refugees is in tumult after Israel accused a dozen of its workers of collaborating in Hamas’ October 7 assault, a surprising declare that has since prompted eight of the company’s largest donor international locations to halt funding.

Those countries embody the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Canada; the US has lengthy been the United Nations Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) biggest donor and yearly gives a whole bunch of tens of millions in humanitarian support. 

“The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said in a statement that urged the governments to resume funding. “But the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalized. The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met.”

Details of the allegations, which had been made by the Israeli navy and reportedly contain 12 UNRWA staffers, are usually not clear. The company employs about 13,000 individuals in Gaza and has lengthy managed companies starting from training to well being look after Palestinian refugees. In asserting its choice to quickly pause funding on Friday, the US State Department acknowledged the crucial function the UNRWA performs in delivering life-saving help to Palestinians. Still, it stated that it will droop funding till the company completed an investigation into the allegations.

The different international locations launched comparable statements. “We must make sure that not a single euro of Finland’s money goes to Hamas or other terrorists,” the nation’s overseas ministry said in a press release on Saturday.

The timing of Israel’s accusations comes as the disaster in Gaza, the place the demise toll has topped 26,000 individuals, continues unabated. On Sunday, Guterres warned that the choices to droop funding by a few of its largest donors may imply that the company will likely be unable to work at full capability as early as February. 

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