News

Norway warns of 'consequences' from funding cuts to UN Palestinian agency

By AFP

January 31, 2024 06:55 PM


 

Norway, one of the few major donors to have maintained aid to the embattled UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, warned other donors Wednesday of the consequences of suspending funding.

"We urge fellow donor countries to reflect on the wider consequences of cutting their funding to UNRWA," Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in a statement to AFP.

"UNRWA is a vital lifeline for 1.5 million refugees in Gaza," he said, adding that "to avoid collectively punishing millions of people, we need to distinguish between what individuals may have done and what UNRWA stands for".

Thirteen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden, have suspended funding to the UN agency over accusations that 12 on its staff members were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas militants against Israel.

The attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 of them remain in Gaza including at least 29 people believed to have been killed.

Following the deadliest attack in Israel's history, its military launched a withering air, land and sea offensive that has killed at least 26,900 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.

The heads of several UN organisations on Wednesday also warned that defunding UNRWA, which has around 30,000 staff members, risked a "catastrophic" humanitarian collapse in Gaza.


AFP


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