Britain, Finland, Netherlands And Italy Join US In Defunding UNRWA
Earlier today, four more countries announced that they have paused funding for the UNRWA. Britain, Finland, Netherlands, and Italy announced their decision to temporarily halt their financial support for the agency.
The decision to suspend funding comes after Israel provided multiple proofs that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the Hamas-led assault. The United States, Canada, and Australia have taken similar actions in response to the allegations.
Accordingly, UNRWA suspended the staff members in question pending the completion of its inquiry. In its official statement, the UK Foreign Office announced the temporary suspension of funding for UNRWA while the accusations are under review.
London emphasized its condemnation of the October 7 attacks, labeling them as heinous terrorism. Similarly, Italy’s Foreign Minister, Antonio Tajani, announced via social media platform X that the Italian government has halted financing for UNRWA in response to the “atrocious attack” on Israel.
Like the UK and Italy, Finland and Netherlands suspended their funding to the UN agency, citing the seriousness of the allegations and the need for a thorough investigation.
EU Suspends UNRWA Funding
Furthermore, the European Union (EU) suspended UNRWA funding following allegations of misconduct. EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, expressed “extreme concern” over the claims and emphasized the need for complete transparency from UNRWA.
While the EU remains in contact with the agency and expects immediate measures against implicated staff, it stopped short of announcing a complete halt in funding, opting instead to await the results of a comprehensive investigation. The pieces of evidence have sparked debates on the role of UNRWA in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Israel Calls For UNRWA Ousting From Gaza
Meanwhile, Israel has announced a push for the removal of the UNRWA from Gaza following revelations of the staff members’ role in the ongoing conflict. Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused UNRWA of perpetuating the refugee issue, obstructing peace efforts, and serving as a civilian arm of Hamas in Gaza.
Katz added that the proofs indicate that the agency’s staff members have affiliations with Hamas and aid in terrorist activities. Earlier, UNRWA alleged that Israel’s IDF deliberately attacked civilian sites like first responder stations, hospitals, and schools even though the agency was aiding Hamas’ operations.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed horror at the accusations and announced plans for an urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA. Meanwhile, Australia reported a temporary pause in the disbursement of recent funding to UNRWA, citing concerns over the allegations against the agency’s staff.
Calls For Reconsideration Amid Political Tensions
While responding to this development, Hussein al-Sheikh, head of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), has warned of significant risks associated with the cessation of support for UNRWA. Al-Sheikh urged countries that have halted their support for UNRWA to reconsider their decisions promptly, highlighting the agency’s critical role in assisting Palestinian refugees.
In addition, the suspension of UNRWA funding raises questions about the immediate impact on Palestinian refugees and the broader geopolitical landscape. While humanitarian concerns remain paramount, the decision also carries implications for regional stability and the prospects for peace negotiations.
The outcome of UNRWA’s investigation and the subsequent response from donor countries will be closely watched as efforts to resolve the current conflict intensify.