UNRWA grapples with fallout as countries pull aid funding for Gaza


UN Relief Chief: Now is not the time to let Gaza down

A senior United Nations humanitarian affairs official has said the world needs to be “at full stretch to give the people of Gaza hope,” in a statement appearing to criticize decisions by several countries, including the U.S., to cut funding to UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Martin Griffiths, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs said on X that the “humanitarian capacity to assist” the people of Gaza “has never been under such threat.”

“Now is not the time to let them down,” he added.

Cuts to funding have followed accusations from Israel that a dozen UNRWA staffers were involved in the Hamas attacks of October 7.

UNRWA may be forced to end lifesaving aid due to funding suspension, commissioner-general says

Lifesaving aid provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East may end due to the suspension of funding from multiple countries, Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said.

The U.S., U.K., Canada, Italy and Finland are among the countries that have suspended funding to the UNRWA pending an investigation into allegations that members of staff participated in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

“It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the Agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation,” Lazzarini said. “The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative authority in the UN system, has already been seized of this very serious matter.”

The UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza and over 2 million people in the enclave depend on the agency for survival, according to Lazzarini.

“It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region,” he said. “UNRWA shares the list of all its staff with host countries every year, including Israel. The Agency never received any concerns on specific staff members.”

Lazzarini urged countries that have suspended funding to UNRWA to reconsider before the agency “is forced to suspend its humanitarian response.”

“The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability,” he said.

Pope Francis renews call for cease-fire

Pope Francis made a renewed call for a cease-fire in Gaza, saying that because of global conflict “too many children continue to suffer, to be exploited and to die.” Francis made the remarks during an address to an Italian nonprofit fundraising for a Rwandan orphanage.


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