Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

UNRWA: Suspended Aid to Gaza Amounts to $267 Million

Wed 01 May 2024 | 10:12 AM
Israa Farhan

Philippe Lazzarini, the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), affirmed on Tuesday that the total aid currently frozen for the UN agency amounts to $267 million.

The Commissioner noted that a total of $450 million had initially been suspended.

Thanks to the resumption of funding by some donors, contributions from new countries, and fundraising from the private sector, the Commissioner-General stated, "We are in a better position today than we were three months ago."

Israel, amidst its relentless bombardment of Gaza since October 7th, has accused UNRWA of employing individuals hostile to it in the Gaza Strip.

These accusations, vehemently denied by the agency, which is considered the main body coordinating humanitarian aid to Gaza's residents, have led several donor countries, including the United States, to freeze their funding to the UN agency.

This jeopardized its ability to intervene in the besieged sector, prompting warnings from the United Nations of an impending famine.

However, since then, several of these donor entities have resumed funding to UNRWA, as reported by Lazarini to journalists in Geneva.

He clarified that the total outstanding funds amount to $267 million, with the majority coming from American aid.

He also noted that the United States has indicated it will maintain the freeze until March 2025, due to a ban imposed by Congress.

Similarly, he pointed out that the United Kingdom and Austria have yet to decide on resuming their funding, with a decision from the Swiss government expected soon.

The UN official explained that new countries, including Algeria and Iraq, have expressed their intention to assist the agency, which has raised over $115 million in six months thanks to private donors.

Consequently, Lazzarini believes the agency will be financially sustainable until the end of June.

On April 26th, the United Nations announced that the Internal Oversight Office had "interrogated 19 UNRWA employees," including the first 12 employees accused by Israel in January, with their contracts subsequently "terminated," in addition to seven others reported later.

Lazzarini clarified that among the nineteen individuals, one person has been acquitted and reinstated in his position, indicating that "the investigation is currently pending for four others" due to lack of information.

Last week, a report prepared by an independent committee overseen by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna pointed out some "issues related to neutrality" within the agency.

However, it emphasized that Israel has not yet provided supportive evidence for its accusations of UNRWA employees belonging to terrorist organizations.