US suspends UN agency funding after allegation over employees' involvement in Oct 7 attack

UNRWA fired several employees after Israeli authorities provided information about the staff members' involvement in the attack

By AFP

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Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis. — AP
Palestinians arrive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah after fleeing an Israeli ground and air offensive in the nearby city of Khan Younis. — AP

Published: Fri 26 Jan 2024, 8:54 PM

The US government on Friday suspended funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees after it fired several employees accused of taking part in the October 7 attack by Hamas against Israel that triggered the Gaza war.

The State Department said in a statement that it was "extremely troubled" by the allegations against the agency, UNRWA, and has "temporarily paused additional funding... while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them".

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Thursday with the head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, "to emphasise the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter", the statement said.

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"We also welcome the UN's announcement of a "comprehensive and independent" review of UNRWA. There must be complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of October 7," the State Department said.

The statement underlined that "UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support".

"Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures."

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The head of UNRWA said that "several" employees had been fired and that an investigation was underway after Israeli authorities provided information about the staff members' alleged involvement in the October 7 bloodshed.

According to the State Department, the allegations involve 12 employees that "may have been involved."


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