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Belgium continues to back UNRWA pending investigation

By : JD

Jordan Daily – Belgium said on Wednesday it would not suspend its funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, despite allegations by Israel that some of its staff were involved in a Hamas attack in October.

Twelve countries, including the United States, Britain and Germany, have halted their support for UNRWA, which provides aid, education and health care to millions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere.

Israel accuses at least 12 of UNRWA’s 30,000 regional staff of taking part in a Hamas rocket barrage that killed 10 people in Israel on Oct. 7.

Belgium, which gave 11.5 million euros to UNRWA last year, said it would wait for the results of a U.N. internal investigation and an external audit before taking any action.

“Given the high humanitarian needs and the threat of famine in Gaza, Belgium has decided to continue its funding for the time being,” Development Cooperation Minister Caroline Gennez said in a statement.

She said Belgium took the allegations seriously and demanded full transparency and better screening from UNRWA, adding that “very strict action” must be taken if the claims were confirmed.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for staff to be involved in, or glorify, the barbaric terrorist attacks of Oct. 7,” she said.

UNRWA, which relies almost entirely on voluntary donations, has said it is cooperating with the U.N. probe and has not received any evidence from Israel or other donors to back up the accusations.

Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Gaza, said UNRWA was vital for the population there, which suffers from violence, poverty and despair.

“Completely suspending all funding would be a collective punishment for a population already suffering greatly,” she said.

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