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EU Urges Support for UN Agency For Palestinians Amid Claims of Staff Links to Terrorism

The EU’s humanitarian chief has issued a plea to international donors to stand in solidarity with the UN agency for Palestinians, urging support in the wake of a comprehensive review that failed to substantiate Israel’s claims about hundreds of UNRWA staff purportedly having ties to terrorist organizations.

Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, commended the report’s findings, particularly its acknowledgment of the robust compliance systems within UNRWA, while also emphasizing the need for continued enhancements in this regard. “I call on the donors to support UNRWA – the Palestinian refugees’ lifeline,” he underscored in a statement.

The review, conducted by an independent group under the leadership of former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna, did identify some “neutrality-related issues.” However, it notably highlighted that Israel had yet to furnish compelling evidence to support its assertion that UNRWA employs more than 400 individuals with alleged affiliations to terrorist groups.

This scrutiny follows allegations made by Israel in January, suggesting that certain UNRWA personnel might have been involved in Hamas attacks. Consequently, several donor states took action, with approximately $450 million in funding being either suspended or put on hold. While some nations, including Sweden, Canada, Japan, the EU, and France, have since resumed their financial support, others such as the United States and Britain have not, with the US even enacting legislation to block funding until March 2025.

The funding freezes come at a time when Gaza is reeling from dire conditions, characterized by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a “humanitarian hellscape.” Despite these challenges, UNRWA remains steadfast in its mission, providing essential services to nearly six million people across regions including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

As debates and investigations continue, the urgent humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees persist. The call for support from international donors echoes loudly, as efforts to ensure the delivery of vital aid and assistance to those in need remain paramount.

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