UN chief appeals to U.S., UK, others to reverse UNRWA funding suspension

“The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences."

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UN chief appeals to U.S., UK, others to reverse UNRWA funding suspension
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has appealed to the countries that suspended funding to the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) to reconsider their decisions, to ensure the continuity of its vital humanitarian operations.

BRANDPOWER reports that no fewer than nine countries have temporarily suspended their funding to UNRWA due to allegations that 12 employees were involved in the Hamas massacre in Israel.

The countries include U.S, UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland.

Guterres, in a statement, said that the organisation is promptly responding to the extremely serious allegations that several UNRWA personnel were involved in the Oct. 7 terror attacks in southern Israel.

“An investigation by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative body in the UN system, was immediately activated.

“Any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.

“The Secretariat is ready to cooperate with a competent authority able to prosecute the individuals in line with the Secretariat’s normal procedures for such cooperation,” Guterres said.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini had previously announced on January 17 a full, independent review of the agency.

Out of the 12 individuals implicated, nine were immediately identified and terminated by the UNRWA head. One is confirmed dead, and the identities of the remaining two are being clarified.

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Over two million civilians in the Gaza Strip depend on lifesaving aid provided by UNRWA.

The Agency operates shelters for over one million people and has been providing food and healthcare since the start of the conflict.

However, its current funding is insufficient to meet all requirements to support them in February.

Acknowledging the concerns of the countries that halted funds and expressing horror at the accusations, Guterres appealed to the governments that suspended contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations.

“The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences.

“But, the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalised,” he said.

“The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met.”