Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

UNRWA’s Funding Secured until End of May

Wed 27 Mar 2024 | 09:33 AM
Israa Farhan

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, affirmed to Swiss media outlets on Tuesday that the agency has adequate funding to continue its operations until the end of May at the least.

UNRWA, responsible for coordinating all aid to Gaza, has been facing a crisis since Israel accused around 10 of its employees, out of a total of 13,000 in the sector, of involvement in the October 7 attack by Hamas against Israel.

This led several donor countries, including the United States, to suddenly halt funding to the agency, posing a threat to its efforts to deliver essential aid to Gaza, alongside warnings from the United Nations of an imminent famine.

Last month, Lazzarini warned that the funding crisis was severe to the extent that the organization might not be able to continue its activities beyond March.

However, with several countries resuming or increasing their funding recently, including Spain, Canada, and Australia, Lazzarini told the Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS on Tuesday that the situation is now less critical.

He added that they still deal with the situation on a month-to-month basis, confirming that the agency now has sufficient funding until the end of May.

Lazzarini's visit to Geneva aims to provide an update to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Swiss Parliament on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and to respond to questions regarding Israel's accusations against UNRWA staff, according to a brief statement from the committee.

The Swiss Commissioner hopes to persuade his country to follow the footsteps of countries that have resumed funding to UNRWA.

At the end of January, Switzerland, which has allocated approximately 20 million Swiss francs (23 million dollars) annually to UNRWA in recent years, expressed doubts about the possibility of providing the 2024 installment after Israel's accusations against the agency.

The United Nations has launched an internal and independent investigation, noting that Israel has not provided any evidence to support the accusations against its employees.

Lazzarini accused Israel of seeking to destroy UNRWA, which employs around 30,000 people in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, where they provide healthcare, education, and other essential services.

He himself was barred from entering Gaza last week, and at the weekend, he stated that Israel has completely prevented the agency from delivering aid to northern Gaza, where the risk of famine is increasing.

The October 7 attack claimed the lives of approximately 1,160 Israelis according to a tally compiled by Agence France-Presse based on official Israeli figures.

The Israeli offensive launched on Gaza killed 32,414 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the enclave.