Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

US Calls for Fundamental Change for UNRWA Funding

Wed 31 Jan 2024 | 11:16 AM
Israa Farhan

The United States has called on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to make "fundamental changes" before resuming its funding, which was suspended following Israeli allegations that some of its employees were involved in a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7th.

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, welcomed the organization's decision to conduct an investigation and review of its activities. 

She also stated that the US seeks to obtain more details from Israel regarding these allegations.

These allegations came to light on Friday when UNRWA announced that it had dismissed some of its employees after receiving information from Israel.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, stated on Sunday that nine out of twelve individuals involved had been dismissed, one had passed away, and the identities of the remaining two were being clarified.

The US, the largest donor to UNRWA, temporarily suspended its funding, along with several other countries.

Matthew Miller, the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, stated on Tuesday that Washington provides between $300 and $400 million annually to UNRWA.

 He added that the United States has provided around $121 million to UNRWA since the beginning of the current fiscal year in October.

Guterres met with dozens of UNRWA donor parties in New York for over two hours on Tuesday to discuss the United Nations' response to Israeli allegations and to address concerns. Many ambassadors described the meeting as constructive.

The Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told reporters after the meeting that Guterres had appealed to countries that had suspended UNRWA funding to reconsider their decisions. He also urged "other countries, including regional countries, to assume their responsibilities as well."

The Chinese Ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, stated that Guterres shared information with donor parties regarding individual allegations against UNRWA employees.

Zhang told reporters, "We are at an extremely critical moment in dealing with the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, and the war is still ongoing... We must not allow these individual cases to diminish our focus on seeking a ceasefire."