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Australia, Italy halt funding to UN agency

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Several key donor countries to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees joined the US and said on Saturday they would halt their funding following accusations by Israel that several UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas’s October 7 attack.

The US State Department said on Friday they suspended payments to the organisation. The US underlined that “UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support.” The UNRWA is the United Nations humanitarian agency that serves Palestinians. The organisation said it had opened an investigation into allegations from Israel that some of its staff members participated in Hamas’ October 7 attack. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said 12 UNRWA employees had been accused of participating.

UNWRA head Philippe Lazzarini said in a statement on Saturday that nine countries have suspended funding to the agency which threatens “our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip.” He added, “It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region.?”



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