Home World EU urges donors to fund UN agency for Palestinians after review

EU urges donors to fund UN agency for Palestinians after review

0
EU urges donors to fund UN agency for Palestinians after review

BRUSSELS: The EU’s humanitarian chief on Tuesday urged international donors to fund the UN agency for Palestinians after a review said Israel had not yet provided evidence that hundreds of staff were members of terrorist groups.
European commissioner for crisis management Janez Lenarcic welcomed the report for “underlining the agency’s significant number of compliance systems in place as well as recommendations for their further upgrade.”
“I call on the donors to support UNRWA — the Palestinian refugees’ lifeline,” he wrote on X.
An independent review group on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency said it had found some “neutrality-related issues” in its much-anticipated report released Monday.
But the review led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna noted “Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence” for its claim that UNRWA employs more than 400 “terrorists.”
The review group was created following allegations made by Israel in January that some UNRWA staff may have participated in the October 7, 2023 Hamas attacks. In the weeks that followed, numerous donor states suspended or paused some $450 million in funding.
Many have since resumed funding, including Sweden, Canada, Japan, the EU and France — while others, including the United States and Britain — have not.
The US Congress passed a bill signed into law by President Joe Biden last month that blocks funding from Washington until March 2025.
The freezes to the main aid agency in Gaza come as months of Israeli military operations have turned the territory into a “humanitarian hellscape,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guteres said recently, with its 2.3 million people in desperate need of food, water, shelter and medicine.
Colonna’s team was tasked with assessing whether UNRWA was “doing everything within its power to ensure neutrality,” while Guterres activated a second investigation to probe Israel’s allegations.
Despite a robust framework for ensuring it upheld the humanitarian principle of neutrality, the review found that “neutrality-related issues persist,” including instances of staff sharing biased political posts on social media and the use of a small number of textbooks with “problematic content” in some UNRWA schools.
But it added “Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence” for its claim that UNRWA employs more than 400 “terrorists.”
UNRWA began operations in 1950 and provides services to nearly six million people across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.