U.S., U.K. among 9 countries pausing funding to UNRWA amid allegations 12 employees were part of Oct. 7 attack

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees said that it had terminated contracts with those who were alleged to be involved in the incursion.

Amid an investigation into the allegations that some employees participated in the attack on Israel on October 7, nine countries have suspended funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

UNRWA is responsible for delivering much-needed aid to Gaza. The Israeli Defense Forces have been bombarding Gaza in their mission to eliminate Hamas militants following the October attack.

The United States, Germany and United Kingdom have all suspended funding. Australia, Italy, Canada as well as Finland, the Netherlands, Canada and Canada are also among the countries that have halted funding.

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Japan announced Sunday that it had “decided for the moment to suspend additional funding” to UNRWA.

France has not announced that it will stop funding the UNRWA. However, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs stated the country “has not planned to make a new payment during the first half 2024 and it will decide at the appropriate time what action to take with the United Nations and main donors.”

UNRWA announced on Friday that Israeli authorities had provided information that some of its employees may have been involved in the attack. According to the U.S. State Department, 12 employees were accused of being involved in the attacks.

In a statement released on Sunday, U.N. secretary-general Antonio Guterres revealed that of the 12 cases, nine had been terminated. One death has been confirmed and two others are still being identified.

Guterres, as well as the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services, have stated that the Office will investigate the allegation.

Guterres stated in a statement that “any UN employee who is involved in acts or terror will be held responsible, including by criminal prosecution.”

There was no information available about the workers’ involvement in the attacks of Oct. 7.

Israel Katz, Israel’s Foreign Minister, accused UNRWA in Gaza of being the “civilian wing of Hamas.” The humanitarian aid agency vehemently denies this charge.

Israel has accused UNRWA for years of conspiring with Hamas – the militant group which governs Gaza – and launching the Oct. 7 attacks.

The UNRWA commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini stated on Saturday that the funding pause by countries who account for a large part of UNRWA’s budget will serve as a catalyst to the regional humanitarian crisis. This is exacerbated by the cutoff of fuel and other supplies.

It is shocking that UNRWA has suspended funds for the Agency as a result of allegations made against a small number of staff. This is especially true given the immediate actions taken by UNRWA to terminate their contracts and request an independent transparent investigation.

He called on the countries to reconsider.

Lazzarini stated that UNRWA was the main humanitarian agency in Gaza. Over 2 million people depended on UNRWA for their survival.

About 3,000 staff members continue to work at the enclave. Lazzarini stated that UNRWA shared the list of its entire staff with the host countries, including Israel, every year. The Agency has never received any complaints about specific staff members.

UNRWA reports that nearly 90% of its budget comes from U.N. member countries, with the United States and Germany topping the list.

Eight nations provide more than 600 million dollars of UNRWA’s estimated budget of $1.1 billion, or over half.

Nations have stated that they are waiting for the results of the investigation. Ville Tavio said that Finland must ensure that no money from the country goes to Hamas, or any other terrorist group.

The German Foreign Ministry announced that it would continue to provide humanitarian assistance through funding for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UNICEF.

Geoffrey van Leeuwen, the Netherlands’ Minister of Foreign Trade and International Trade, said that his country will continue to provide aid for Gazan civilians “throughother means.”

In a press release, Hamas condemned the termination of employee contracts “based on the information obtained from the Zionist enemies.”

Gaza’s health ministry reported that the death toll in Gaza since October 7 has exceeded 26,000. The war has forced nearly 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents to flee.

In a social media post, the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Hussein al Sheikh stated that the funding freeze comes at a bad time – as Israel is “continuing its aggression against the Palestinian People.”

He also called on nations that had halted funding to revert their course.