Middle East

UN panel calls for all member states to resume funding UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees

From CNN’s Kareem El Damanhoury and Richard Roth

A panel of UN experts said Friday that the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) was “politically targeted” as it voiced disappointment over some countries not reinstating their funding weeks after an independent review cleared the agency.

“The independent review ordered by the UN Secretary-General, following an increase of allegations since the onset of the military assault on Gaza in October 2023, has shown that the claim that significant numbers of UNRWA employees have ties with ‘terrorist organisations’ remains unsubstantiated,” the experts said in a statement on Friday.

Earlier this year, Israel accused at least 12 UNRWA staffers of being involved in Hamas’ October 7 attacks and has alleged that about 12% of the agency’s 13,000 staffers are members of Hamas or other Palestinian militant groups. Last month, the independent review found that UNRWA’s neutrality must be strengthened and that its facilities were sometimes misused, but noted that Israel did not provide supporting evidence for its allegations.

“UNRWA remains pivotal in providing life-saving humanitarian aid and essential social services, particularly in health and education, to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the West Bank,” the review said, adding that the agency is “irreplaceable and indispensable to Palestinians’ human and economic development.”

As of April 30, funding to UNRWA from nine states was still frozen, according to a UN statement.

With previous reporting from CNN’s Tim Lister

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