UNRWA Chief Seeks Support in Gulf Countries to Fill Funding Gap

UN Palestinian relief agency head seeks funding after donors suspended funds

The head of the main UN Palestinian relief agency, UNRWA, is visiting three Gulf states this week to drum up support after donors suspended funding following Israeli allegations that some of the agency’s staff were involved in the Oct. 7 massacre. Some 15 important donors have suspended funding, including the United States, after Israel UN Watch provided evidence UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 attack. UNRWA warned last week that it might be forced to shut down its operations by the end of February if funding does not resume. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said nine of those implicated had been fired, one was dead and the identities of the other two were being clarified.

Investigations into UNRWA ongoing
An independent review of UNRWA’s ability to ensure neutrality and respond to allegations of conduct breaches would be led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna. Weapons found in Jabalya, Gaza, some of them in UNRWA bags are shown in credit by IDF spokesperson’s unit (see image above)

Colonna will work with the Raoul Wallenberg Institute in Sweden, the Chr. Michelsen Institute in Norway, and the Danish Institute for Human Rights to submit an interim report by late March and a final report by late April. Guterres said the independent external review will take place alongside an investigation currently underway by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services. The decision to hold the external review was taken prior to allegations of UNRWA staff involvement in October 7, but with an eye to general accusations made against the organization. UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini discussed UNRWA’s work with the UAE Foreign Minister and plans to visit Qatar and Kuwait. Kuwait and Qatar rank 19th and 20th in UNRWA’s list of top 20 donors. Spain announced additional aid to UNRWA worth 3.5 million euros. On Friday, Portugal announced additional aid to UNRWA worth one million euros. UNRWA provides education, health, and aid services to millions of Palestinians across Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. While some private donors and countries like Spain have stepped up to offer additional help, it was not nearly enough to offset the gap estimated at $440 million.