In this Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015 file photo, a Palestinian school girl chants slogans during a demonstration against an UNRWA funding gap that could keep about 500,000 Palestinian students out of school this fall, outside the UNRWA Gaza Headquarters in Gaza City.
Earlier, the United States, Finland, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, along with other countries suspended funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).The UNRWA will face a negative budget balance from March, the agency’s Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said in an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK.
"From March, we will have a negative balance," the commissioner-general said, expressing hope that funding would resume.
The problems came after more than 10 countries cut off funding for the organization amid Israeli accusations that the agency’s staff were involved in the October 7, 2023 attack on the country by the Palestinian Hamas movement.”We dismissed staff even before the investigation began. As an agency, we acted quickly and did everything we could at that stage,” Lazzarini stressed.The UNRWA had earlier received information from Israel about the alleged involvement of some of its staff in the October 7 Hamas attack on the country, and decided to terminate their contracts.Russia confirmed its support for the activities of the UNRWA, which is a key structure for providing comprehensive assistance to Palestinians in the face of the unresolved refugee problem, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.It is wrong to collectively punish the UNRWA before properly investigating the involvement of some of its staff members in the attack on Israel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday.WorldTwenty Humanitarian Organizations Urge Donors to Resume Funding for UNRWA30 January, 06:15 GMTIn a separate development, Philippe Lazzarini said that the organization could not confirm reports that Hamas infrastructure had allegedly been discovered under the UNRWA’s main headquarters in the Gaza Strip.”UNRWA is made aware of reports through the media regarding a tunnel under the UNRWA Headquarters in Gaza. UNRWA staff left its headquarters in Gaza City on 12 October following the Israeli evacuation orders and as bombardment intensified in the area. We have not used that compound since we left it nor are we aware of any activity that may have taken place there … We are therefore unable to confirm or otherwise comment on these reports,” Lazzarini said on X.He added that during periods of “no active conflict,” the UNRWA conducted inspections of its premises every quarter, with the last inspection completed in September 2023.On Saturday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that it had allegedly discovered a Hamas tunnel under the main headquarters of the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli forces also conducted raids on the building, where they reportedly found weapons and ammunition.