#Israel, #US, #UK, #Hamas, #IsraelAttack, #October7
IBNS-CMEDIA: Several nations, including the UK and the US, have halted donations to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees amid accusations by Israel that several UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas members.
In a statement, the US State Department said: “The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel. The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
“UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures,” the statement said.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson said its government is appalled by allegations levelled against UNRWA.
“The UK is temporarily pausing any future funding of UNRWA whilst we review these concerning allegations,” the statement said.
Allegations UNRWA staff were involved in the abhorrent October 7 terror attacks are deeply concerning.
Australia welcomes UNRWA’s swift response and will engage closely on investigations.
We are speaking with partners and will temporarily pause disbursement of recent funding. pic.twitter.com/Havwserjh3— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) January 27, 2024
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong posted on X: “Allegations UNRWA staff were involved in the abhorrent October 7 terror attacks are deeply concerning. Australia welcomes UNRWA’s swift response and will engage closely on investigations. We are speaking with partners and will temporarily pause disbursement of recent funding.”
Antonio Guterres reacts
Secretary-General António Guterres has asked the head of the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees, UNRWA, to “swiftly” investigate “extremely serious allegations” that several agency staffers were involved in the 7 October terror attacks in southern Israel.
Guterres has also asked UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini to swiftly investigate and any employees found to have taken part in or “abetted what transpired” in the brutal attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian militants that day to be fired and referred “for potential criminal prosecution”.
“The Secretary-General is horrified by this news,” Mr. Guterres’ spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said in a statement issued on Friday morning in New York, noting in the regular Noon Briefing in New York that the UN chief had been told about the allegations by the UNRWA Commissioner-General “earlier this week”.
Urgent independent review
An urgent and comprehensive independent review of UNRWA will be conducted, the statement added, a move announced on 17 January.
The UNRWA chief said information had been provided by Israeli authorities of the alleged involvement of some agency staff members.
“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” Lazzarini said.
“Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he added.
He reiterated UNRWA’s condemnation of the terror attacks in the “strongest possible terms” and called again for the immediate and unconditional release of all Israeli hostages.
Betrayal of ‘fundamental values’
“These shocking allegations come as more than two million people in Gaza depend on lifesaving assistance that the agency has been providing since the war began,” Lazzarini said.
“Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those whom we serve in Gaza, across the region and elsewhere around the world.”
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