HomeGlobal Defence Updatesisrael-hamas war: US suspends USD 3,00,000 funding to UNRWA amid investigation into...

israel-hamas war: US suspends USD 3,00,000 funding to UNRWA amid investigation into alleged Hamas ties

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The United States has decided to temporarily withhold approximately USD 3,00,000 in funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) as the United Nations (UN) investigates allegations of agency staff involvement in the October 7 Hamas attacks, CNN reported.
State Department spokesperson Matt Miller confirmed the pause in funding, originally scheduled for delivery in the coming weeks, while the investigations are ongoing.

Last week, the US announced the temporary suspension of funding after reports surfaced about UNRWA staff potentially being linked to the Hamas attacks. The total impact of the funding pause may depend on the amount authorized by Congress for the fiscal year.

The United States has contributed around USD 121 million to UNRWA in the current fiscal year, according to Miller. He emphasised the necessity of a thorough investigation into the allegations and acknowledged the crucial role UNRWA plays in providing humanitarian support, including education, healthcare, and food relief, to Gaza’s population.

A meeting between the US and 34 other donor nations with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is set to take place on Tuesday. The meeting aims to provide a briefing on actions taken since the revelation of the allegations against UNRWA staff. Guterres is expected to underline the organization’s vital humanitarian work during the meeting.

The allegations assert that 13 UNRWA employees were associated with the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with varying levels of involvement, according to information shared by an Israeli official. The Israeli claims suggest that these employees participated in activities ranging from kidnapping hostages to setting up an operation room.While CNN has not seen the intelligence underlying the summary of allegations, the Israeli official shared that of the 13 UNRWA employees, 10 were alleged Hamas operatives, two were Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, and one remains unidentified. The Israeli intelligence claims that six UNRWA employees infiltrated Israel as part of the attack, with others involved in kidnapping and providing logistic support.Concerns have been raised about the potential impact of flooding tunnels beneath populated areas, including damage to infrastructure and contamination of freshwater supplies. The UN has not officially received the intelligence shared by Israel, and UNWRA has already terminated several employees in response to the allegations. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that nine staff members central to the allegations have been fired, one is deceased, and the identities of two others are being clarified.

UNRWA, often criticised by Israel, denies allegations of anti-Israel incitement and diverting aid to Hamas. The agency has condemned the October 7 Hamas attack as “abhorrent.” The recent fallout from the allegations has led several major donor countries, including the US, Germany, and the UK, to suspend funding to UNRWA. However, some countries like Norway, Ireland, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia have continued their support.

UN officials have expressed concern that a suspension of payments from major donor countries could lead to UNRWA running out of funds, jeopardizing humanitarian relief for millions of people. The situation underscores the delicate balance between addressing alleged misconduct and ensuring the continuity of essential services provided by UNRWA, CNN reported.

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