Contact Us

Palestine calls suspending UNRWA funding "collective punishment"

Once again, Palestine has spoken out against the actions taken by certain countries to withhold funding for the UNRWA, deeming it as a form of "collective punishment" inflicted on the Palestinian population.

Anadolu Agency ART
Published January 28,2024

Palestine denounced on Sunday once again the decisions made by some countries to suspend funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), calling it a "collective punishment" meted out to the Palestinian people.

In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that "suspending UNRWA funding and continuing support for Israel in the genocide of our people are collective punishments and miserable double standards."

The ministry said the decisions of several countries are "extremely politicized, disproportionate and unjustified, especially in light of the UN Secretary-General's decision to conduct the necessary investigations into the Israeli allegations."

UNRWA said it terminated contracts with several employees for alleged involvement in the Oct. 7 attack on Israelis.

The US, UK, Italy, Australia, Canada, Finland, and the Netherlands decided to suspend funding to UNRWA following claims by Israel on Friday.

Norway welcomed investigations of some staffers but said it would continue to support Palestinians via UNRWA.

Ireland also announced it would not suspend funding to the UN agency.

Meanwhile, the Department of Palestinian Affairs called on "all countries that suspended their funding to UNRWA to rescind their decisions that represent a collective punishment of the Palestinian refugee community."

It also pointed out that "incitement against UNRWA and distorting its reputation is an Israeli goal aiming at tightening the grip on our people, especially in the Gaza Strip to continue starving, exterminating, and forcibly displacing them."

In a separate statement, the Palestinian National Initiative Movement denounced the decision to suspend financial aid to the UN agency, saying it is "based on Israeli lies and allegations against some UNRWA employees."

"What should be punished is not the International Relief Agency, but the government of Israel," the movement stressed, calling on the countries that suspended funding for it to "immediately retract their decision and impose sanctions on the occupation that assassinated 102 UNRWA workers while they were performing their humanitarian duties."

Earlier on Sunday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the US, UK, and several other countries not to suspend funding to the UNRWA, saying the desperate needs of the populations it serves must be met.

"While I understand their concerns-I was myself horrified by these accusations - I strongly appeal to the governments that have suspended their contributions to, at least, guarantee the continuity of UNRWA's operations," Guterres said in a statement released by his office.

"Meanwhile, 2 million civilians in Gaza depend on critical aid from UNRWA for daily survival but UNRWA's current funding will not allow it to meet all requirements to support them in February," he said.

Despite a provisional ruling Friday by the ICJ that ordered Tel Aviv to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, Israel continued its onslaught against the coastal enclave where at least 26,422 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 65,087 injured since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health authorities.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.