Guterres to meet UNRWA donor nations after funding suspension

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres calls for the continuity of UNRWA’s operations as the agency has tens of thousands of staff working throughout the region.

  • Palestinians stand at the entrance of the UNRWA-run University College for Educational Science Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on January 29, 2024. (Photo by Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet Tuesday with key donors to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) after 12 of its staff were accused by the Israeli occupation of taking part in the Palestinian Resistance’s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7.

Several countries, including the United States, France, Britain, Germany and Japan, have announced the suspension of further funding to the agency.

“The secretary-general is personally horrified by the accusations against employees of UNRWA,” Guterres’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday.

“But his message to donors — especially those who have suspended their contributions — is to at least guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations, as we have tens of thousands of dedicated staff working throughout the region.”

Guterres already met with Washington’s representative to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield on Monday, and “he will be hosting a meeting here in New York with the major donors for UNRWA (Tuesday) afternoon here,” Dujarric said.

“The secretary-general has also been engaging with the UNRWA leadership and donors to UNRWA, as well as regional leaders, such as King Abdullah of Jordan, whom he spoke to a short while ago, and President (Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi of Egypt.”

UNRWA said it has acted promptly over allegations but that cuts in funding will affect ordinary Palestinians.

A group of 20 aid organizations, including Oxfam, Save the Children and ActionAid, said in a joint statement that they were “outraged” at the suspension of funding to the agency.

The Israeli occupation has vowed to stop the agency’s work in the Gaza Strip after the war. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Monday he had canceled a meeting with UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini scheduled for later in the week.

UNRWA funding suspension shows donor nations complicit in war: Hamdan

Earlier, senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan condemned during a press conference the decision taken by the agency to dismiss employees and considered that it distorts the agency’s aim.

Hamdan recalled that the UNRWA director did not condemn the Israeli shelling that directly targeted the agency’s warehouses, pointing out that the suspension of funding by the United States and eight other countries “confirms the complicity of these countries in the genocide war” and called on UNRWA to reverse its decision.

Commenting on the suspension of funds, Michael Fakhri, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said the decision “collectively punishes +2.2 million Palestinians.”

“Famine was imminent. Famine is now inevitable,” he wrote on X.

Read more: All operations to halt by end of Feb. if funding doesn’t resume: UNRWA

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