Funding to UNRWA suspended, Amnesty urges donors to reverse decision

Gaza residents inspect the ruins of an apartment destroyed by Israeli airstrikes.

Amnesty International has issued a plea to donor countries, calling on them to reverse their decision to suspend funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in light of allegations made by Israel.

The London-based human rights group has labeled this funding suspension as “inhumane,” asserting that it delivers a “devastating blow” to over 2 million Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip.

In a statement released on Monday, Amnesty International highlighted the actions of a dozen donor countries that have halted financial support to UNRWA.

The organization urged these countries to reconsider their decisions, emphasizing the importance of sustaining funding for the UN agency, which plays a crucial role in providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinian refugees.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, expressed deep concern over the impact of decisions that could exacerbate the plight of two million Palestinians, who are already at risk of genocide and facing the possibility of an engineered famine.

Callamard particularly criticized the fact that these decisions were taken based on allegations involving only 12 employees out of UNRWA’s total staff of 30,000.

The funding suspension was prompted by Israeli allegations that some UNRWA staffers were involved in a cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on Israel on October 7.

The Hamas attack was a retaliation to a decades-long occupational crimes committed by Israel in Gaza.

In response, UNRWA terminated contracts with several employees. Countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Finland, Australia, the UK, Netherlands, US, France, Austria, and Japan have suspended funding for UNRWA, an agency established in 1949 to assist Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Amid the controversy, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, and Belgium have announced that they will not suspend funding.

Callamard stressed the seriousness of the allegations against UNRWA staffers and called for an independent investigation.

However, she cautioned against using these allegations as a pretext to cut off life-saving assistance, emphasizing the potential for such actions to amount to collective punishment.

Amnesty International criticized key states, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and France, for cutting off funding to UNRWA despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling and its findings that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is at a serious risk of deteriorating further.

The organization expressed dismay at the disregard for the court’s guidance, especially considering the dire consequences of the Israeli offensive launched on Gaza, resulting in death of more than 26,000 Palestinians.

The UN reports that 85% of Gaza’s population is internally displaced, facing shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, with 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure damaged or destroyed.

Click to comment
To Top