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Scotland, Ireland to continue funding UNRWA

January 29, 2024 at 11:57 am

First Minister Humza Yousaf during First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, ahead of a scheduled appearance later in the day at the UK Covid Inquiry, currently being held in Edinburgh, on January 25, 2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland. [Ken Jack/Getty Images]

The governments of Scotland and Ireland confirmed that they will continue funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

Scottish Prime Minister Humza Yousaf said on his X account: “To be clear, @scotgov has not paused or withdrawn aid to @UNRWA. We have previously provided as much as we can within our financial constraints. We will always seek to do more where we can & urge others to continue to provide aid to the people of Gaza.”

Moreover, Irish Foreign Minister Michael Martin, announced in a post on X, that Ireland “has no plans to suspend funding for UNRWA’s vital Gaza work.”

He added, “UNRWA’s 13,000 employees provide life saving assistance to 2.3m people and at incredible personal cost – with over 100 staff killed in last 4 months,” adding that Ireland “provided @UNRWA €18m in 2023 and will continue our support in 2024.”

On Friday, UNRWA announced that it had opened a probe into the alleged involvement of several of its employees in the 7 October infiltration into Israel by resistance fighters from Gaza, and that it had severed ties with them.

“The Israeli authorities have provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several UNRWA employees in the horrific attacks on Israel on October 7,” said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA commissioner-general.

Israel has repeatedly equated UNRWA staff with Hamas members in efforts to discredit them, while lobbying hard to have UNRWA closed down as it is the only UN agency to have a specific mandate to look after the basic needs of Palestinian refugees. If the agency no longer exists, argues Israel, then the refugee issue must no longer exist, and the legitimate right for Palestinian refugees to return to their land will be unnecessary. Israel has denied that right of return since the late 1940s, even though its own membership of the UN was made conditional upon Palestinian refugees being allowed to return to their homes and land.

Britain, Italy and Finland on Saturday paused funding for UNRWA following the allegations, joining the United States, Australia and Canada who had already severed ties with the international body.

Read: Israel urges more countries to pause UNRWA funds, wants agency replaced