Gaza Australia and Canada stop funding UNWRA

Gaza: Australia and Canada stop funding UNWRA

Australia and Canada have announced the suspension of their funding for the UN Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA) after Israeli authorities raised allegations that staff may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas attack.

The United States announced Friday that it would “temporarily suspend” all future funding for the U.N. agency, which is at the center of distributing aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip and is under fire from fighting between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement .

On Saturday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was “deeply concerned” by the allegations against UNWRA.

“We are talking to our partners and will temporarily suspend the disbursement of the latest funding,” she wrote on the social network X.

“We welcome UNWRA’s immediate response, including the termination of contracts (of employees, editor’s note) and the announcement of an investigation into the allegations against the organization,” she continued.

She highlighted the impact of UNWRA's “vital work” on Gazans and “the more than 1.4 million Palestinians currently seeking refuge in its facilities.”

For his part, Canadian International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen announced on Friday that “Canada has temporarily suspended all additional funding to UNWRA while it conducts a thorough investigation into these allegations.”

“Canada takes these allegations extremely seriously and is working closely with UNWRA and other donors on this matter,” he wrote on X.

“If these allegations are proven, Canada expects UNRWA to take immediate action against those proven to have been involved in Hamas terrorist attacks,” he added, specifying that Ottawa “remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” continues to call for rapid action.”, sustainable and unhindered passage of vital aid.

Previously, UNWRA said on Friday that it had received information from Israel about the “alleged involvement of several of its employees” in the attack.

“In order to protect the agency's ability to provide humanitarian assistance, I have decided to immediately terminate the contracts of these employees and open an investigation,” the agency's head, Philippe Lazzarini, said in a press release.

“Any employee involved in terrorist attacks will be held accountable, including through legal action.”

A few minutes later, Washington announced the temporary suspension of all additional funding for the agency.

The United States “is extremely concerned by allegations that 12 UNWRA employees may have been involved in the attack,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement.

American diplomacy chief Antony Blinken spoke to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to “underscore the need for a rapid and thorough investigation into this matter.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, for its part, called for a “deep internal review of the activities of Hamas and other terrorist organizations” within UNWRA.