Australia resumes funding to UNRWA in Gaza, expects others to follow suit

Australia resumes funding to UNRWA in Gaza, expects others to follow suit

ISTANBUL: As the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens, Australia resumed funding to the UN agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) on Friday.

“In resuming funding, the government is responding to a dire and worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza,“ said Foreign Minister Penny Wong in a statement quoted by Anadolu Agency (AA).

The decision to temporarily pause funding was made following steps to enhance the integrity of UNRWA operations.

In addition to unfreezing US$6 million to UNRWA, Canberra will also support efforts by Jordan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to deliver vital humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.

A Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster will deliver a supply of 140 Australian Defence Force aerial delivery parachutes for use in humanitarian assistance airdrops, added the statement.

The statement noted that Australia’s decision aligns with actions taken by Canada, Sweden and the EU, and it is expected that more countries that have paused funding will take a similar approach.

Canberra acknowledged that only UNRWA has the infrastructure to receive and distribute aid on the scale needed in Gaza, urging Israel to recognise its mandate and work transparently to support its integrity.

Australia also reiterated its call for an “immediate and enduring humanitarian” ceasefire in Gaza to enable the unconditional release of hostages and provide urgent humanitarian relief.

“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,“ Wong stated during a press conference in Adelaide.

“I know people are starving in Gaza. I know that UNRWA is critical to providing this assistance to people who are on the brink of starving,“ she added.

Israel initiated its war on Gaza after the Oct 7, 2023 cross-border attack, resulting in the deaths of more than 31,000 Palestinians and pushing the territory to the brink of famine.

Australia had joined its Western allies, including the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK), in January in suspending funding to the organization after Tel Aviv alleged that a dozen UNRWA workers were linked to the Oct 7 attack. – Bernama, Anadolu


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