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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

UNRWA Condemns Switzerland's Funding Cut


Thu 14 Dec 2023 | 12:40 PM
Israa Farhan

Philip Lazarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), has expressed his dismay over Switzerland's decision to cut aid at a time when the Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian crisis described by the United Nations as catastrophic.

Speaking at the Global Refugee Forum in Geneva on Wednesday, Lazarini expressed his regret over the "severe funding shortfall" faced by the agency just one day after his disappointment with Switzerland's move.

"Despite our successes, UNRWA suffers from chronic underfunding which impacts the quality of our services," he said.

The UNRWA Commissioner-General added, "Supporting refugee rights is not solely the responsibility of humanitarian and development organizations but is a shared responsibility with donors and host countries."

The Swiss National Council, the lower house of parliament, voted to halt the country's annual contribution to UNRWA, which amounted to 20 million Swiss Francs (about 22.83 million US dollars), with a majority of 116 votes against 78 on Monday.

The initiative's proponent, who was part of a parliamentary delegation that visited UNRWA earlier this year, claimed that the agency lacks objectivity.

The Swiss Council of States is expected to review the decision on Thursday, and both chambers must approve it for it to take effect.

"As a country that leads on international humanitarian law, I am disappointed in this decision to cut aid to the largest and most active humanitarian agency on the ground in Gaza today," Lazzarini wrote on X on Tuesday.

He warned that the agency's ability to carry out its work in the Palestinian territories is on the brink of collapse, and last month, he believed there was a deliberate attempt to stifle UNRWA's operations.