UNRWA chief urges countries to reconsider their suspension of funding

The head the UN agency for Palestinian refugees has urged countries to reconsider their decisions to suspend funding to the body.

Major donors to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, or UNRWA, including the United States, Germany and Canada, have paused additional funding to the UN agency following allegations that some of its staff members were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

Contributions from donor countries cover much of the funds for the agency's activities.

UNRWA has opened an investigation in response to information provided by Israel.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Saturday that nine countries had temporarily suspended their funding. He added these decisions threaten the body's ongoing humanitarian work across the region, especially in the Gaza Strip.

He said, "it would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals."

The UNRWA chief also noted 2 million people are dependent on the agency for their sheer survival.

UNRWA plays a pivotal role in distributing aid supplies and running shelters in Gaza. Concerns are growing that the latest developments could make the humanitarian situation there worse.