Sweden and Canada resume funding UN agency for Palestinian refugees

United States Air Force drops humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on Saturday, March 9, 2024.
United States Air Force drops humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on Saturday, March 9, 2024. Copyright Associated Press
Copyright Associated Press
By Euronews with AP
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Sweden and Canada will resume aid payments to UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

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Another top donor to the UN agency aiding Palestinians, UNRWA, said on Saturday that it would resume funding, weeks after more than a dozen countries halted hundreds of millions of dollars of support in response to Israeli allegations against the organisation.

Sweden's reversal came as a ship bearing tons of humanitarian aid was preparing to leave Cyprus for Gaza after international donors launched a sea corridor to supply the besieged territory facing widespread hunger after five months of war.

Sweden's funding decision followed similar ones by the European Union and Canada as the UN agency known as UNRWA warns that it could collapse and leave Gaza's already desperate population of more than 2 million people with even less medical and other assistance.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is devastating and the needs are acute,” Swedish development minister Johan Forssell said, adding that UNRWA had agreed to increased transparency and stricter controls. 

Sweden will give UNRWA half of the €34.7 million funding it promised for this year, with more to come.

Canada also said on Friday that it would re-start funding for UNRWA while investigations into the agency's staff continue.

Israel had accused 12 of UNRWA's thousands of employees of participating in the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel that killed 1,200 people and took about 250 others hostage. Countries including the United States quickly suspended funding to UNRWA worth about €411 million, almost half its budget for the year. The UN has launched investigations, and UNRWA has been agreeing to outside audits to win back donor support.

The daily number of aid trucks entering Gaza since the war has been far below the 500 that entered before 7 October because of Israeli restrictions and security issues. The recent opening of a new sea corridor from Cyprus to Gaza showed increasing frustration with Gaza's humanitarian crisis and a new willingness to work around Israeli restrictions.

Overall, the ministry said at least 30,878 Palestinians have been killed since the war began. The toll does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its tallies but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead. The ministry is part of the Hamas-run government, and its figures from previous wars have largely matched those of the UN and independent experts.

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