The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) faces a critical situation, with major donors suspending aid due to revelations of some of its employees' involvement in the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel. Israel alleges that 12 UNRWA staff members took part in the attacks, and a dossier claims that at least 190 UNRWA staff were associated with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed shock over the allegations, and the UN has immediately terminated nine employees involved, with investigations ongoing. In response to the aid suspension, Guterres warned that UNRWA will run out of funds next month, impacting the lives of the two million people in Gaza who rely on its services.
The US, the largest contributor, and Germany have frozen their aid to UNRWA. The organization, established in 1949, provides essential services to Palestinian refugees across the region. UNRWA is currently irreplaceable in Gaza, where widespread displacement, destruction of hospitals, and the threat of mass starvation loom. The situation has triggered an appeal from Guterres to donors to continue supporting UNRWA.
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, acknowledged the crucial role UNRWA plays in assisting those in need in Gaza and called for a thorough investigation and accountability within the organization. A Congressional hearing on UNRWA and its employees' involvement in the October 7 attack is scheduled.
India, a contributor to UNRWA, donates $5 million annually. The current situation jeopardizes the organization's ability to continue its vital work, impacting the lives of those it serves.
(With Agency Inputs)