Palestine: Urgent humanitarian need to fund UN Agency UNRWA

photo: UNWRA Hussein Owda

With the severe and growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the ITUC is calling on 16 governments to reverse their decision to suspend funding to the key UN aid agency for Palestine, UNRWA.

The 16 governments took the decision following allegations made against a small number of the 13,000 UNRWA staff in Gaza.

Nine employees were dismissed by UNRWA and the highest investigative body in the UN system, the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), is investigating. UNRWA has also appointed an independent Review Group to “assess whether the Agency is doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality and to respond to allegations of serious breaches when they are made”. The panel is due to deliver its report in April.

ITUC General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “The people of Gaza are experiencing a grave humanitarian crisis, and UNRWA is the main humanitarian agency for them. Depriving UNRWA of funding deprives Palestinians of vital support at a time when they are most in need.

"The UN system reacted quickly and is investigating all allegations brought to it. The outcome of those investigations should not be pre-empted by stopping funding. Besides restoration of suspended funding, other countries should also step up to support the chronically under-funded UN agency. Gulf States in particular should allocate more of their vast wealth to match their rhetorical support for Palestinians with action.

"As a UN agency, UNRWA’s mandate is not limited to Gaza. Palestinians in the West Bank and refugees in neighbouring countries also depend on it for support. Restoring and increasing funding will not only relieve the humanitarian tragedy, it would also contribute to easing tensions as the essential work to bring about a durable cease-fire continues. With that, the international community must also set the conditions for rapid progress towards a just two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side in conditions of genuine democracy.”

See more here.