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UNRWA: Restart aid to Palestinian UN agency, EU urges

  • By Phelan Chatterjee
  • BBC News

Legend, UN rights chief says there is a ‘plausible’ case that Israel is using famine as a weapon of war in Gaza

The EU has called on international donors to resume funding the largest UN agency in Gaza.

This follows a study that found Israel had failed to provide evidence to support its claims that thousands of UNRWA personnel were members of terrorist groups.

The United States says it will not resume aid until UNRWA makes “real progress.”

UNRWA, which provides health care, education and humanitarian aid to Palestinians, employs 13,000 people in Gaza.

EU humanitarian affairs chief Janez Lenarcic welcomed Monday’s report as it “highlights the significant number of compliance systems in place as well as recommendations for their further improvement.”

He called on donor countries to support UNRWA, describing it as “the lifeline of Palestinian refugees.”

This was echoed by Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide, who praised countries including Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Japan and Sweden for already resuming their funding.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Lithuania have not yet done so.

“As far as our funding to UNRWA, it’s still on hold,” White House security spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday.

“We’ll have to see real progress here before that changes.”

US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said the government was carefully studying the report, adding that “we of course continue to support the important work of UNRWA, and it must continue.”

Israel has accused more than 2,135 agency personnel of being members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad – terrorist organizations banned in Israel, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries. But the independent UN study, led by a former French foreign minister, said Israel had yet to provide “evidence to support” the claim.

The agency insists it conducts detailed reference checks on all employees and shares personnel lists with Israel.

Israeli officials suggest the report ignores the seriousness of the problem and assert that UNRWA has systematic links to Hamas.

The EU appeal comes as the US humanitarian envoy to Gaza, David Satterfield, reiterated his warnings that the risk of famine throughout the Palestinian territory – particularly in the north – was very high.

Around 500 aid trucks arrived in Gaza each day, but this figure collapsed after the start of the war.

Israel has also been accused of slowing deliveries by subjecting trucks to complex and arbitrary controls, and last month the UN’s highest court ordered it to allow the unhindered flow of aid to Gaza.

Israel has pledged to gradually increase its aid to return to pre-war levels, and on Tuesday UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said 310 trucks had entered Gaza the day before, the highest number since the start of the war.

Mr. Satterfield said Israel must do everything possible to end the famine and called for more to be done to provide aid to those in need.

So far, more than 34,000 Palestinians – mostly women and children – have been killed in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

A separate U.N. investigation is examining Israeli allegations that 12 UNRWA personnel participated in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, which left about 1,200 people dead and about 250 taken hostage.

UNRWA dismissed 10 of the 12 accused staff members who were still alive following the allegations.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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