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UNRWA Funding Suspension Key Highlights

Context:

UN officials call for a reconsideration of the decision to suspend funding for UNRWA.

  • Israel’s accusation of UNRWA staff involvement in the October 7 attack led to funding cuts from the US and eight other Western countries, major contributors to UNRWA’s 2022 budget.

Relevance:

GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key highlights
  2. United Nations’ Refugee Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA)

Key highlights:

  • UN officials recently urged countries to reconsider the decision to pause funding for the UN agency for Palestinians.
  • The UN warned that aid for around two million people in Gaza was at stake due to the funding pause.

Israel’s Accusations Against UNRWA:

  • Israel alleges that 12 UNRWA staff members were involved in the October 7 attack.
  • Claims that Hamas siphons off funds given to UNRWA and conducts operations in and around the agency’s facilities.
  • Accuses UNRWA of having Hamas tunnels running next to or under its facilities and teaching hatred of Israel in its schools.

UNRWA’s Response:

  • UNRWA denies all allegations, stating it has no links to Hamas.
  • Out of the 12 accused staff members, nine have been terminated, one confirmed dead, and the identities of the remaining two are being clarified.

Current Situation:

  • UNRWA is vital for the survival of people in Gaza, facing a humanitarian crisis due to the conflict.
  • The agency has been the primary supplier of food, water, and shelter for civilians in the enclave.
  • UNRWA would run out of money for its aid work within weeks if funding is not restored.

United Nations’ Refugee Agency for Palestinians (UNRWA):

  • UNRWA stands for UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East.
  • Established in 1949 to provide aid to approximately 700,000 Palestinians displaced during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.
  • Operates in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan — areas where Palestinian refugees sought shelter after displacement.
  • Manages education, health, relief, social services, microfinance, and emergency assistance programs within and outside refugee camps in the mentioned regions.
  • Primarily funded by voluntary contributions from donor states, including the US.
  • Receives a limited subsidy from the UN for administrative costs.
Performance:
  • Currently serves around 5.9 million Palestine refugees, mostly descendants of the original refugees.
  • In Gaza, over 1 million refugees are housed in UNRWA schools and facilities.

-Source: The Hindu


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