PLO calls on donor countries to reverse decision on suspending UNRWA funds

Ahram Online , Saturday 27 Jan 2024

The Palestine Liberation Organization has called on donor countries to reverse their decision to suspend funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), warning of political and humanitarian relief risks in Gaza.



The PLO’s remarks came after Britain, Italy, Australia, and Canada joined on Saturday the US in suspending their funding for UNRWA after Tel Aviv claimed that several staff of the UN body were allegedly involved in the Hamas operation against Israel on 7 October.

“As at this particular time and in light of the continuing aggression against the Palestinian people, we need the maximum support for this international organization and not stopping support and assistance to it,” Hussein Al-Sheikh, the Palestinian Authority's civilian affairs minister, said on X (formerly Twitter).

"We call on the countries that announced the cessation of their support for UNRWA to immediately reverse their decision, which entails great political and humanitarian relief risks," Al-Sheikh added.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian foreign ministry emphasized that Israel’s attack on UNRWA aims to liquidate the Palestinian refugees’ case and revoke their right of return.

Hamas slammed Israel's “campaign of incitement” against UN agencies delivering aid to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, according to Al Jazeera.

"We ask the UN and the international organizations to not cave into the threats and blackmail from the Zionist entity that seeks to cut off the lifelines of our people," Hamas said in a statement.

Some Western countries such as Norway affirmed that they will continue to support the Palestinian people through UNRWA.

“The situation for the people of Gaza is catastrophic and UNRWA is the most important humanitarian organization in the Strip,” Espen Barth Eide, Norway’s foreign minister, told Al Jazeera.

The UNRWA was founded in 1949 to provide basic educational, nutritional, and health services to Palestinian refugees after they were expelled from their homeland during the 1948 war.

It currently employs over 30,000 people in the Gaza Strip, most of whom are Palestinians with a small number of international staff.

Israel has targeted UNRWA for decades with allegations that its staff were helping anti-Israeli activities in the occupied territories.

Since the start of the current Israeli war on Gaza, Israel has carried out airstrikes on tens of UNRWA-run schools and shelters, killing more than 100 of its staff and hundreds of civilians who were seeking refuge in its shelters.

Despite all challenges, UNRWA staff continued to provide the bare minimum of humanitarian services to the 2.4 million Palestinians who have been facing near-starvation conditions amid an Israeli blockade on the strip.

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