Sweden Announces Suspension of Funding to UNRWA

sida swedene

Europe Desk, Delhi Magazine: Today, the Swedish government declared the cessation of funding to UNRWA after 12 members of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees were dismissed over alleged involvement in the October 7 Hamas attack against Israel.

The Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation stated in a release that Sweden is taking the accusations seriously. The funds initially allocated to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (UNRWA) for this year, totaling 31 million Swedish kronor (2.7 million euros), will be redirected to other humanitarian organizations. Johan Forsell, the Swedish Minister for International Cooperation, praised the decision, emphasizing the need to swiftly address the issue.

Following Israel’s allegations, UNRWA dismissed 12 members and launched an investigation into their suspected involvement in the October 7 attack by Hamas. Several countries, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Romania, and Japan, suspended their funding. The UN Humanitarian Affairs and Reconstruction Coordinator for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag, argued that UNRWA’s capacity, structure, and knowledge in assisting the population of Gaza cannot be easily replaced.

The European Commission (EC) stated that it will make decisions based on the results of the UN investigation. Among major donors, only Spain, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Belgium, along with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, have maintained their contributions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged the international community not to suspend support, acknowledging the alleged actions of some officials but emphasizing the impact on the larger workforce.

Twenty prominent humanitarian NGOs supported Guterres’s plea, warning of a potential collapse of the already limited humanitarian response in Gaza if suspensions are not reversed. Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz canceled a meeting with UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini, calling for his dismissal over alleged support for terrorism.

Since October 7, Israel has conducted a comprehensive offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, resulting in over 26,400 deaths. The more than two million displaced inhabitants face a severe humanitarian crisis, heavily relying on UNRWA, which operates with over 30,000 employees and is the largest organization in the territory outside the influence of Hamas. Israel has also accused UNRWA of indoctrinating students with hatred and identified Hamas tunnels near or beneath UNRWA facilities.

Earlier, Nine additional countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Finland, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, and Switzerland, have suspended funding to UNRWA for Palestinians. This decision follows accusations by the Israeli regime that some UNRWA staff were involved in the October 7 attacks. The move coincides with a recent provisional ruling by the ICJ, urging the occupying entity to prevent acts of genocide against the Palestinians. These countries have chosen to cease funding food aid to alleviate the hunger crisis in Gaza during a period of severe food shortages.

Delhi Magazine Team

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