The European Union has disclosed its intention to consider the future of payments to the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) “in light of the very serious allegations” made last week alleging involvement of staff in Hamas’ October 7 attacks.
“The Commission will review the matter in light of the outcome of the investigation announced by the UN and the actions it will take,” it said in a statement.
“The Commission welcomes the information provided by UNRWA as well as the launch of the investigation,” it added.
It also said it expects the UN agency for Palestinian refugees to undergo a European-led audit, which will focus on “control systems needed to prevent the possible involvement of its staff in terrorist activities.”
“Finally, a review of all UNRWA staff should be launched soonest to confirm that they did not participate in the attacks,” it stated.
Nonetheless, the bloc stated that the decision did not impact humanitarian aid.
“Humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank will continue unabated through partner organisations,” it said.
No money is due to UNRWA under current programmes until February, a spokesperson for the Commission said on Monday.
“We have extremely serious allegations against staff working for UN. It is absolutely obvious that these investigations these allegations need to be investigated seriously, and without delay,” the Spokesperson disclosed.
“Secondly, UNWRA is a partner with which the Commission works intensively on the ground, both for humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank and also more generally for development aid. And as such, it is absolutely normal, that we would request that these allegations are investigated and clarified since we are one of the major donors,” said the spokesperson.
The statement came as Romania became the latest country to announce that it is suspending payments to the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.
A string of countries including the U.S, UK and Germany have paused their funding to the aid agency in the wake of allegations that 12 UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attacks by Hamas in southern Israel.
An estimated 2 million people are dependent on UNWRA services.
About 3,000 of the agency’s 13,000 staff continue to work in Gaza despite the continual Israeli bombardment.
A German Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that the UN agency is not the only source of humanitarian aid for Palestinians.
“We continue to advocate for more humanitarian aid to be provided,” the spokesperson told a news conference in Berlin.
ActionAid Decries Withdrawal Of UNRWA Funding
ActionAid, an international Non-governmental Organisation described the withdrawal of funding for UNRWA by some donor nations as a “death sentence” for the population of Gaza.
In a statement, it welcomed UNRWA’s investigation related to the allegations involving a small group of UNRWA staff members in the 7 October attacks.
However, the charity vehemently denounced the “callous choice to punish an entire population by some of the very nations that previously called for increased aid and protection for humanitarians in Gaza.”
It insisted that the withdrawal of funding by these donor countries is nothing short of a death sentence for approximately two million civilians, with over half of them being children who depend on UNRWA aid in Gaza to survive.
Also on Monday, the United Nations Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) that it would not be able to continue operations in Gaza and across the region beyond the end of February if funding were not resumed.
“If the funding is not resumed, UNRWA will not be able to continue its services and operations across the region, including in Gaza, beyond the end of February,” a spokesperson for the agency said.