UN chief urges US, UK, other countries not to suspend funding for relief agency in Gaza

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the US, UK, and several other countries on Sunday not to suspend funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency (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.

“The abhorrent alleged acts of these staff members must have consequences. But the tens of thousands of men and women who work for UNRWA, many in some of the most dangerous situations for humanitarian workers, should not be penalized,” he said.

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.

The organization “is taking swift action following the extremely serious allegations” against several UNRWA staff members, Guterres said.

“An investigation by the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) was immediately activated,” he stressed.

“Of the 12 people implicated, nine were immediately identified and terminated by the Commissioner-General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini; one is confirmed dead, and the identity of the two others is being clarified,” he said.

Any UN employee involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution, the statement said.

“The Secretariat is ready to cooperate with a competent authority able to prosecute the individuals in line with the Secretariat’s normal procedures for such cooperation,” he underlined.

Earlier on Jan.7, the UN agency announced “a full, independent review of the organization.”

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.

Source: Anadolu Ajansi

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