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Italy, Germany, Netherlands... UNRWA continues to lose funding due to a dozen employees’ alleged collaboration in the October 7 attacks

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz insists the UN agency's commissioner should resign.

ONU; Hamas, cifras falsas

(Cordon Press)

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Nine countries announced in less than three days that they are suspending funding for the United Nations Agency for Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Donors began to suspend funding Friday after the international organization announced that it had fired several of its employees and was investigating them for allegedly being involved in the October 7 attacks.

The United States was the first to announce that it would stop funding UNRWA. That meant that the agency lost its main donor. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller then explained that the suspension would remain in place while the U.N. conducted a "comprehensive and independent" study of the involvement of 12 agency employees in the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel that started the war.

The foreign ministers of Italy and Australia, Antonio Tajani and Penny Wong, announced that their countries would join the suspension. They were joined by Canada's Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen.

On Saturday, the British government made the same decision. "The UK is appalled by allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism that the UK Government has repeatedly condemned," said a spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Finnish government also announced this Saturday that it would stop its donations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs explained that in 2023 it committed to giving €5 million per year. The next payments were suspended, until further notice. "We must make sure that not a single euro of Finland's money goes to Hamas or other terrorists," said Foreign Trade and Development Minister Ville Tavio.

"In coordination with other donor countries, Germany will temporarily not authorize new funds for UNRWA in Gaza until the end of the clarification," the German Foreign Ministry reported. "We are very shocked by the accusations that October 7 was committed with U.N. money, with our money," said the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of Netherlands Van Leeuwen, who announced in an interview with local media NOS that his country would also suspend funding.

France joined them on Sunday. "France has not planned a new payment for the first half of 2024 and will decide when the time comes of the action to take together with the United Nations and the main donors," the Foreign Ministry said according to AFP.

Despite reports that Switzerland and Scotland had joined the list of deterred donors, both denied the reports. As reported by swissinfo.ch, the authorities will wait for the results of the investigations to decide whether or not to withdraw their donations. The Scottish Prime Minister, Humza Yousaf, directly denied the reports:

UNRWA asks for donations to continue

"It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff," said UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini, who also praised the agency's "immediate action" in dismissing the suspects and request an investigation.

Lazzarini also said that the international organization shared the list of its personnel every year and that they had never received complaints. He also insisted that cutting UNRWA's funding would complicate compliance with the recent ruling of the Hague Court.

"I urge countries who have suspended their funding to re-consider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response," he asked after announcing that the United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) would be investigating former employees. The secretary general of the United Nations joined the claim this Sunday, ensuring that those responsible would be punished and that of the twelve involved, nine had been fired, one was dead and two others should be investigated further.

Lazzarini is under the microscope

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz demanded Lazzarini resign. He also asked more countries to suspend their donations.

"UNRWA's ties with Hamas, providing refuge for terrorists, and perpetuating its rule are undeniable," Katz wrote. "In Gaza's rebuilding, UNRWA must be replaced with agencies dedicated to genuine peace and development."