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Britain is unlikely to make an immediate decision on funding Unrwa | union

Britain is unlikely to make an immediate decision on funding Unrwa |  union


Plans to be announced today to improve accountability and transparency at Unrwa, the UN relief agency for Palestine, are not expected to lead to an immediate decision by the UK to restore funding to the agency.

Britain joined 18 other countries in suspending funding for the agency on October 7 after Israel claimed that Unrwa and 12 of its 30,000 employees had participated in Israeli attacks. Almost every country has restored funding, and the UK government faces conflicting domestic pressures over whether to do the same. The UK provided $35 million to Unrwa in the last financial year, including an additional $16 million for humanitarian assistance.

Some Conservative lawmakers and strong supporters of Israel have written to Foreign Secretary Cameron warning that reinstating the funding would be a kind of moral bankruptcy. Because they think this institution is too close to Hamas. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman argued: Unwra has clearly been discredited. Hamas took control of the Unrwa region and used it to carry out terrorist attacks. It would be shameful for the UK government to divert British taxpayers' money to fund Unrwas' activities. This should not happen.

They argue that the food distribution task could be carried out by other agencies such as the World Food Program (WFP), but others say Unrwa has an infrastructure that no other agency can replace.

The independent report, commissioned by the United Nations by France's former foreign minister Catherine Colonna, is due to be released at noon BST in New York after being delivered to UN Secretary-General Annio Guterres at the weekend.

Concise and direct, the report includes a series of recommendations to make organizations more transparent and accountable. Unrwa has already committed to providing donor countries with a full list of its employees every quarter, including ID card identification information for the first time.

Among the countries that have restored funding are the EU, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany, France and Japan.

Germany has not yet resumed funding for the Unrwas Gaza project, but has resumed funding for Jordan, Lebanon and the West Bank. It is possible that the UK will soon decide to restore funding. Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell previously said there was no alternative agency capable of carrying out Unrwas' work.

The U.S. Congress voted to direct the Biden administration not to restore funding to Unrwa until at least March of next year. The United States is Unrwa's largest funder, but other countries have stepped up to provide additional support to keep the organization afloat.

In April, Unrwas Secretary-General Philippe Lazzarini called for a separate, independent investigation into how the protected status of humanitarian workers and facilities in Gaza was blatantly ignored. He claimed Unrwa was facing a campaign to push him out of the occupied Palestinian territories.

He told the UN Security Council: In Gaza, the Israeli government seeks to end Unrwas' activities. The agency's requests to deliver aid to North Korea have been repeatedly rejected. Our staff cannot attend coordination meetings between Israel and humanitarian actors.

What's worse is that Unrwa buildings and staff have been targets since the war began.

He warned that the breakup of Unrwa would have lasting effects. In the short term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine. In the long term, this will jeopardize the transition from one ceasefire to the next by depriving traumatized people of essential services.

This will make the enormous task of getting half a million girls and boys back to learning who are suffering extremely difficult to achieve.

UN Watch, an NGO that has long opposed Unrwas's role, has already denounced the Colonna report as a tainted whitewash.

This article was revised on April 22, 2024. Because Catherine Colonna, as the previous version said, is not a current minister, but a former French foreign minister.




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