Australia PM says government 'examining' claims against UN Palestinian agency

February 4, 2024 11:31 am

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese [Source: Reuters]

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Sunday his government was probing claims that some staff of the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) were involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, after Australia paused funding to the aid agency last month.

Australia is one of several countries to have halted funding for UNRWA, a critical source of support in Gaza, after Israeli claims of U.N. employees’ complicity with Hamas.

Albanese said his government wanted to make sure the accusations were “fully examined” so that all funding was “going to the purpose for which it is given”.

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The prime minister added that he did not want people “literally starving” in Gaza and “the only organisation that can provide that support there is UNRWA”.

Late last month, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Finland joined the United States, Australia and Canada in pausing funding to the aid agency.

The agency has opened an investigation into several employees and has severed ties with those people, it has said.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in January described UNRWA as “the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza” and has appealed to all countries to “guarantee the continuity of UNRWA’s lifesaving work.”

The agency, whose biggest donors in 2022 included the U.S., Germany and the European Union, has repeatedly said its capacity to render humanitarian assistance to people in Gaza is on the verge of collapse.