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UN chief to meet UNRWA donors, as major charities call for continued support

Displaced people walk from the north of Gaza towards the south. (file)
© UNRWA/Ashraf Amra
Displaced people walk from the north of Gaza towards the south. (file)

UN chief to meet UNRWA donors, as major charities call for continued support

Humanitarian Aid

Secretary-General António Guterres is due to meet with major donors to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) on Tuesday, as major non-governmental organizations (NGOs) issued an urgent plea to keep lifesaving funds flowing.

The UN chief met with the head of the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative body in the UN system, his spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said on Monday at the regular Noon Briefing.

This is to ensure that the investigation into allegations that several UNRWA personnel were involved in the 7 October terror attacks in Israel “will be done as swiftly and efficiently as possible”, Mr. Dujarric said.

“We have a process of accountability that is going on. While that is going on, people need to survive and we need continued support for UNRWA and all our humanitarian work,” he added.

Dire needs must be met

Mr. Dujarric noted that the Secretary-General is “personally horrified” by the accusations, but that his message to donors, especially those who have suspended their contributions, is to “at least guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s operations, as we have tens of thousands of dedicated staff working throughout the region”.

“The dire needs of the desperate populations they serve must be met,” Mr. Dujarric said.

In addition to its programmes in the Gaza Strip, UNRWA provides vital humanitarian aid to Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.

In the Gaza Strip, the agency is providing lifesaving aid to over two million civilians, operating shelters for over one million and providing food, water and healthcare services.

NGOs urge continued support

Also on Monday, a group of leading international aid agencies and NGOs called on countries which have pulled funding for UNRWA over the allegations “to reaffirm support for the vital work” the UN agency does.

These include the Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Save the Children and the War Child Alliance.  

They called on the donor States which have suspended funding, including the United States, United Kingdom, Austria, Finland and Japan, to restore urgently needed support or “risk further depriving Palestinians in the region of essential food, water, medical assistance and supplies, education and protection”.

Some countries have stated they will continue their funding, while expressing deep concern over the allegations, while other donors have reportedly decided to continue funding while the investigations run their course.