A Collective Punishment? Following US Steps, 8 More Countries Pause UNRWA Fund to Palestine

Following in the United States footsteps, Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Finland have chosen to pause their aid for UNRWA, the biggest humanitarian agency in the Gaza Strip, which provides aid, housing, and employment opportunities for Palestinians under blockade. War-stricken Gazans are currently suffering the consequences of this collective decision.

This comes after Israeli officials filed criminal complaints against 12 UNRWA employees, accusing them of being complicit in the October 7 attacks.

The UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said earlier in a statement that “Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

However, the rush of many major countries to pause their funding for the agency was soon perceived by Lazzarini as a “collective punishment.” In a statement on his X account, he said, “Palestinians in Gaza did not need this…This stains all of us.”

Yesterday, January 27, the UNRWA released an official statement commenting on the suspension of aid. The tone of the statement deems the suspension “irresponsible” and “shocking,” especially since it comes at a time when the ICJ ordered Israel to allow aid into the Strip, which is on the verge of a “looming famine.”

Regarding the future of the ongoing investigation, Lazzarini said that the Office of Internal Oversight Services “OIOS,” as well as an external group, will investigate and reveal the truth behind the accusations faced by UNRWA employees.

“I urge countries who have suspended their funding to re-consider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response. The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability.”

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