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UK “temporarily pausing” funding for UNRWA

The United Kingdom (UK) is “temporarily pausing any future funding” for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the British government said in a statement on Saturday.

It came after Israel accused some of the UN agency’s employees of participating in the attack launched by Hamas on southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said in the statement that the UK was “appalled” by the allegations, and the funding for the agency would be halted “whilst we review these concerning allegations.”

Prior to the UK’s action, countries including the United States, Canada, and Australia have also announced temporary suspension of their new fundings for the UNRWA.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, secretary-general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, on Saturday urged countries that have announced the suspension of support for the UNRWA to reconsider their decisions to avoid political and humanitarian risks.

He said on the social media platform X that “especially at this time, amid the ongoing (Israel’s) aggression against the Palestinian people, we are in desperate need of support from this international organization.”

The UNRWA said on Friday that it had decided to “immediately terminate the contracts” of the staff members involved and “launch an investigation.”

The UNRWA, established as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly in 1949, serves to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees and is entrusted with the mission of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestinian refugees in the agency’s operational areas until a just and lasting solution to their plight is achieved. ■

Famagusta Gazette