At least five countries stop funding UN Palestine Relief and Works Agency
- 27 Jan 2024 5:30 pm CET
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The alleged involvement of twelve employees of the UN Palestinian Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in the Hamas massacre in Israel has caused outrage worldwide. At least five countries have temporarily stopped payments to the UN organization.
UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini announced that Israel had provided the aid organization with information that several employees were involved in the bloodbath. Lazzarini and UN Secretary-General António Guterres were appalled and threatened those involved with criminal prosecution if the suspicions were confirmed. The UN did not initially say how the employees may have been involved in the Hamas massacre in Israel.
In a statement to Swiss radio and television SRF, the Swiss Foreign Ministry also expressed its "extreme concern" about the accusations made by the Israeli authorities.
Whether Switzerland's annual contribution to UNRWA will be paid out again this year will only be decided once more information is available about the serious allegations against UNRWA employees. In recent years, the contribution has amounted to around CHF 20 million.
Several countries suspend funds
Other Western countries are also important donors to UNRWA. The USA and Canada have temporarily suspended the provision of additional funds for the UN relief organization. The UK, Italy and Australia also suspended payments on Saturday.
According to the US State Department, the United States is extremely concerned. Italy also stopped its financial aid. At the same time, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani assured: "We are committed to providing humanitarian aid for the Palestinian population and protecting Israel's security."
Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the UN aid organization on Saturday of having many employees who are members of Hamas and support terror. He provided no evidence of this. In a post on Platform X, he wrote that UNRWA serves "as the civilian arm of Hamas" in the Gaza Strip. According to him, the organization should no longer play a role in the Palestinian territory after the end of the war. "UNRWA is not the solution."
Hamas speaks of smear campaign
The Islamist Hamas spoke of a smear campaign by Israel against international organizations that help the Palestinians. "The unscrupulous Nazi entity" is trying to "cut off all the lifelines of our people".
The United Nations founded UNRWA in 1949 to help Palestinian refugees. According to the organization, around 5.9 million people are now entitled to its services. These include Palestinians who fled or were expelled in 1948, as well as their descendants. UNRWA is active in Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, among other places.