UK pauses funding to UN relief agency over 'concerning' claims staff were involved in Hamas' attack on Israel

27 January 2024, 13:08 | Updated: 27 January 2024, 13:28

The UK has paused funding to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees.
The UK has paused funding to the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

The UK has joined allies, including America and Canada, in 'temporarily pausing the future funding' of a UN agency for Palestinians.

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It follows allegations some workers at the United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees were involved in Hamas' attacks on Israel on the 7th of October.

The Foreign Office said it is “temporarily pausing” the funding of the UNRAW while it reviews the allegations.

It said in a statement: “We remain committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza who desperately need it."

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said on Friday it has fired "several" employees over the accusations and is investigating.

NRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said the decision had been made to “protect the agency's ability to deliver humanitarian assistance".

"Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution," he added.

It comes after Australia, the US, Italy and Canada all paused their funding for the agency over the allegations.

Read more: Top UN court stops short of ordering ceasefire in Gaza but says Israel must 'prevent and punish' acts of genocide

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The US State Department said it was “extremely troubled” by the allegations against staff members and would reassess future funding “based on the result of the full and comprehensive investigation”.

Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, said the country would “engage closely with UNRWA on investigations” following the news.

It came just days after Ms Wong had announced almost double the humanitarian funding in “conflict-affected populations” with a focus on women and children in occupied Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian Authority's minister for civilian affairs, Hussein Al-Sheikh, said the decision to pause funding “entails great political and humanitarian relief risks”.

He urged those who have paused their funding to reverse the decision, as he added: “We need the maximum support for this international organisation."