The United Nations Secretary-General on Sunday called on countries that have stopped funding the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) amid the unrest to “at least guarantee the continuation of their operations”, which are vital for two million people.
The agency, which is at the center of humanitarian assistance in Gaza, said on Friday that, based on Israeli information, it had separated several employees accused of taking part in the October 7 attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Israel to have been involved authorities.
Following this announcement, the United States announced the suspension of any additional assistance to UNRWA, followed by several other countries, including Italy, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Finland and Germany.
“While I understand their concerns – I myself was appalled by these accusations – I urge the governments that have suspended their contributions to “at least ensure the continuity of UNRWA operations,” argued Antonio Guterres in a press release.
“Two million civilians in Gaza rely on UNRWA’s critical assistance for their daily survival, but UNRWA’s current funding will not allow it to meet all needs in February,” he said.
“The allegedly despicable behavior of these employees must have consequences. But the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for aid workers, should not be punished. We must respond to the urgent needs of the desperate populations they care for,” the UN Secretary-General added.
He confirmed, as Washington had indicated, that twelve UNRWA staff were affected by these “extremely serious allegations”, which were the subject of an internal UN investigation. UNRWA had separated nine of them, one was “confirmed dead” and the identities of two others were being “clarified”, he said.
“Any UN employee involved in terrorist attacks will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he assured, pledging his cooperation with the relevant authorities.