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Sri Lanka donates $1m to UNRWA for Palestinian children in Gaza

April 2, 2024 at 4:31 pm

Many Palestinian families take refuge under harsh conditions at a school affiliated to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) at the Daraj neighborhood as the Israeli attacks continue in Gaza City, Gaza on February 6, 2024 [Dawoud Abo Alkas – Anadolu Agency]

Sri Lanka, today, donated $1 million to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to help Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip.

According to Wafa news agency, despite Sri Lanka’s economic challenges, this contribution is viewed as an initial effort to counter plans seeking to dismantle the UN relief agency, vital for over five million Palestinian refugees.

Israel has repeatedly equated UNRWA staff with Hamas members in efforts to discredit them, providing no proof of the claims, while lobbying hard to have UNRWA closed 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.

A statement from President Ranil Wickeremesinghe’s office announced: “The government of Sri Lanka donated $1 million to assist children impacted by the conflict in the Gaza Strip. The donation was formally transferred to the government of Palestine through the United Nations’ official channel.”

It comes after the Sri Lankan Cabinet endorsed President Wickremesinghe’s proposal in February to establish a fund aimed at aiding children affected by the conflict in Gaza.

Moreover, the President’s office has called on all ministries and government bodies to abstain from Iftar celebrations during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and instead contribute to the Children of Gaza Fund.

It also called for a ceasefire in war-torn Gaza, while advocating for a Palestine State.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on Gaza since a 7 October cross-border attack led by Hamas in which nearly 1,200 Israelis were killed.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 32,600 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have since been killed in Gaza, besides causing mass destruction, displacement and conditions of famine.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice which, in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: UN aid chief says attempts to expel UNRWA from Gaza must stop