Australia Resumes Funding to UNRWA

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Australia Resumes Funding to UNRWA Amidst Dire Humanitarian Situation in Gaza

In a significant move, Australia has announced the resumption of its funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the key UN aid agency that supports Palestinian refugees. This decision comes at a time when the humanitarian situation in Gaza is worsening.

A Reversal of Decision

Earlier this year, Australia, along with several western nations, had frozen funding to UNRWA following allegations by Israeli intelligence that linked a dozen of its workers to the October 7 terror attack by Hamas. However, after an investigation by UNRWA and termination of some staff contracts, Australia has now decided to reverse its decision.

The Funding Details

Australia will resume its $6 million funding pledge to UNRWA that had been suspended. Foreign Minister Penny Wong announced that the government was finalising an updated agreement with UNRWA. She stated, “The nature of these allegations warranted an immediate and appropriate response. The best available current advice from agencies and the Australian government lawyers is that UNRWA is not a terrorist organisation, and that existing additional safeguards sufficiently protect Australian taxpayer funding”.

The Impact on Palestinians

UNRWA plays a crucial role in providing aid to Palestinians, including food, medicine, vaccinations, and shelter. The agency’s potential collapse due to the funding freeze would have left Palestinians without one of the primary agencies distributing food and supplies. With Australia’s funding resumption, it is expected that the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza will see some relief.

Other Nations Follow Suit

Australia’s decision follows similar moves by Canada, Sweden, and the EU, who have also reversed their funding suspension to UNRWA. However, the United States, UNRWA’s largest donor, has maintained a payment freeze.

Australia’s decision to resume funding to UNRWA is a significant development in the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. It remains to be seen how this will impact the overall situation in the region and whether other countries will follow suit.

 

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