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Sweden, Canada resume Funding For UN Agency For Palestinian Refugees

An UNWRA worker seen in this photo. — courtesy Getty Images via SG

Sweden and Canada have said they will resume aid payments to UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

They were among 16 countries that paused funds after Israel accused at least 12 UNRWA staff of involvement in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

The UN is investigating, and France’s foreign minister is leading a review.

Sweden said on Saturday that it would send 200 million kronor (£15m; $19m) initially, after UNRWA agreed to more checks on its spending and staff.

“The government has allocated 400 million kronor to UNRWA for the year 2024. Today’s decision concerns a first payment of 200 million kronor,” it said in a statement.

It comes after Canada said on Friday that it would re-start funding for UNRWA while investigations into the agency’s staff continue.

On Oct. 7, Hamas gunmen stormed across Gaza’s border into Israel, killing about 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages.

In response, Israel launched a campaign of air strikes and a ground invasion of the territory.

More than 30,900 people have since been killed in Gaza, the territory’s Hamas-run Health Ministry says, and the amount of aid reaching civilians has plummeted.

Read Also:Israel Sets March 10 Deadline For Gaza Ground Offensive In Rafah

The UN has warned that a quarter of the Strip’s population is on the brink of famine and children are starving to death.

UNRWA is the biggest UN agency operating in Gaza. It provides healthcare, education and other humanitarian aid, and employs about 13,000 people there.

The European Commission said earlier this month that it would release 50 million euros in UNRWA funding.

Sweden is the fourth largest contributor to the agency’s budget, and Canada the 11th largest, 2022 data shows.

Canada’s decision was announced in a statement on Friday by the country’s Minister of International Development, Ahmed Hussen.

He said it was made so that “more can be done to respond to the urgent needs of Palestinian civilians”, and “in recognition of the robust investigative process under way”.

The Canadian Armed Forces will also donate about 300 cargo parachutes to Jordan, so they can be used to airdrop supplies into Gaza.

On Friday the EU, UK, US and others said they planned to open a sea route to Gaza to deliver aid that could begin operating this weekend. — BBC

Source: BBC via SG.

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