Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Switzerland Allocates $11M to UNRWA in Gaza

Thu 09 May 2024 | 11:17 AM
Ahmed Emam

The Swiss government has proposed allocating $11 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) to help address the humanitarian emergency in Gaza.

The government proposal, which was announced on Wednesday following several weeks of deliberations, represents half of the amount originally scheduled to be paid to UNRWA in 2024.

Government spokesperson Andrei Simonazzi clarified that the Federal Council decided to provide funding to UNRWA in two installments per year. This means there will be a second decision made later this year regarding additional funding.

In a statement, the Federal Council said that "Switzerland's contribution of 10 million Swiss francs to UNRWA will be restricted to Gaza and will cover the most urgent basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, basic healthcare and logistics services."

The statement further added that Switzerland "is fully cognizant of the challenging situation and acknowledges the pressing need for action."

UNRWA, which coordinates practically all aid to Gaza, has been facing a crisis since January when Israel accused around 12 of its 13,000 staff members in Gaza of being involved in Hamas's attack on Israel on October 7th.

This led several donor countries, including the United States and Switzerland, to abruptly halt funding to the agency, jeopardizing its efforts to provide much-needed assistance in Gaza, where the United Nations has warned of an impending famine.

An independent UNRWA review panel headed by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna identified some "concerns around neutrality" but said Israel had not yet provided evidence to substantiate its main accusations.

The Swiss government said it "relied on the analysis of the Colonna report and coordination with other donors" in making its decision. The government's decision still needs to be presented to parliament's foreign affairs committees for consultation.