Eight international locations have suspended future funding for the United Nations Aid and Works Company for Palestine Refugees within the Close to East amid an investigation into allegations that some employees took half within the October 7 assault on Israel.
The company, referred to as UNRWA, is charged with transferring much-needed humanitarian support to Gaza, which has been closely bombed by the Israeli military in its mission to destroy Hamas militants after the October assault.
The international locations suspending funding embrace the USA, Germany, Nice Britain, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland and the Netherlands.
UNRWA mentioned on Friday that Israeli authorities had offered data that a number of of its staff had been concerned within the assaults. In accordance with the US State Division, the allegations had been made in opposition to twelve staff.
Of the 12, 9 have died, one has been declared lifeless and the identities of two are being clarified, UN Secretary-Common António Guterres mentioned in an announcement on Sunday.
The UN Workplace for Inner Oversight Companies will conduct an investigation investigation into the allegation, Guterres and the company have mentioned.
“Any UN employees member concerned in acts of terrorism can be held accountable, together with via legal prosecution,” Guterres mentioned within the assertion.
Extra particulars in regards to the employees, together with how they’re accused of collaborating within the Oct. 7 assaults, weren’t out there.
Israeli International Minister Israel Katz has accused UNRWA of serving because the “civilian arm of Hamas in Gaza,” an accusation the humanitarian support company has strongly denied.
Israel has lengthy accused UNRWA of colluding with Hamas, the militant group that guidelines Gaza and launched the assaults on October 7.
On Saturday, UNRWA Commissioner Common Philippe Lazzarini mentioned the funding pause from international locations that account for a big share of the price range will worsen the humanitarian disaster within the area, fueled by gasoline and provide cuts.
“It’s stunning to see the suspension of funds to the Company in response to allegations in opposition to a small group of staff, particularly given the rapid motion taken by UNRWA to terminate their contracts and to provoke a clear, unbiased investigation questions,” he mentioned in an announcement. .
He referred to as on international locations to rethink.
“UNRWA is the primary humanitarian group in Gaza, on which greater than two million individuals rely for his or her survival,” Lazzarini mentioned.
The company mentioned it has about 13,000 staff in Gaza, about 3,000 of whom proceed to work within the enclave. “UNRWA shares the listing of all its personnel yearly with host international locations, together with Israel,” Lazzarini mentioned within the assertion. “The Company has by no means acquired considerations about particular employees members.”
Almost 90% of the humanitarian company’s price range is funded by UN member states, with the USA, Germany, the European Union, Sweden and Norway listed by UNRWA as the highest 5 contributors.
The eight international locations account for greater than $600 million of UNRWA’s annual funding, or greater than half of its estimated $1.1 billion annual price range.
The international locations have mentioned they’re awaiting the end result of the investigation. “We should be sure that not a single euro of Finnish cash goes to Hamas or different terrorists,” Finnish Minister of International Commerce and Growth Ville Tavio mentioned in an announcement on Saturday.
Asserting the German funding pause, the German International Ministry mentioned it might keep humanitarian assist via funding to the Worldwide Committee of the Crimson Cross and UNICEF.
Dutch International Commerce Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen mentioned his nation would proceed to supply support to civilians in Gaza “in different methods.”
Hamas condemned in an announcement the termination of worker contracts “based mostly on data offered by the Zionist enemy.”
The Well being Ministry in Gaza mentioned the demise toll within the enclave since October 7 has reached greater than 26,000. Almost 85% of the two.3 million inhabitants have been displaced by the conflict.
Palestine Liberation Group Secretary Common Hussein al-Sheikh mentioned in a social media put up that the funding pause comes at a very dangerous time — as Israel engages in “continued aggression in opposition to the Palestinian individuals.”
He additionally urged international locations to chop funding to alter course.