Australia, Canada suspend UN agency funding after Israeli allegations

Australia, Canada suspend UN agency funding after Israeli allegations
Australia, Canada suspend UN agency funding after Israeli allegations

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Smoke billows over buildings in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip during Israeli bombardment on January 25, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. ― AFP pic

OTTAWA, Canada, Jan 27 ― Australia and Canada have suspended their funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, after Israel accused several employees of involvement in Hamas’s October 7 attack.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said today she was “deeply concerned” by the allegations against the agency, UNRWA.

“We are speaking with partners and will temporarily pause disbursement of recent funding,” she wrote on social media platform X.

“We welcome UNRWA’s immediate response, including terminating contracts and launching an investigation, as well as its recent announcement of a full investigation into allegations against the organization,” she added.

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Canada’s International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen yesterday announced that Ottawa had “temporarily paused any additional funding to UNRWA while it undertakes a thorough investigation into these allegations”.

“Canada is taking these reports extremely seriously and is engaging closely with UNRWA and other donors on this issue,” he wrote on X.

“Should the allegations prove to be accurate, Canada expects UNRWA to immediately act against those determined to have been involved in Hamas’s terrorist attacks.”

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The moves come after the United States halted its funding to UNRWA yesterday, saying the allegations were against 12 employees who “may have been involved” in the Hamas attack that triggered the war in Gaza.

UNRWA said yesterday it had sacked several employees accused by Israel of involvement in the October 7 attack.

The head of the agency, Philippe Lazzarini, has vowed to hold “accountable, including through criminal prosecution” any UNRWA employee found to have been involved in “acts of terror”.

UN chief Antonio Guterres has pledged to conduct an “urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA”.

Wong noted in her statement UNRWA’s “vital, life saving work”, adding it “is providing essential services in Gaza directly to those who need it, with more than 1.4 million Palestinians currently sheltering in its facilities”. ― AFP

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