Ireland boosts UNRWA funding amid Gaza crisis, condemns Israeli allegations

Ireland commits $21M to UNRWA, challenging the funding suspensions by other nations and criticizing Israel's disinformation campaign against the aid agency.

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Ireland has announced a significant financial commitment to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), pledging €20 million (approximately $21.5 million) amid escalating tensions and worsening humanitarian conditions in Gaza. The announcement was made by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Micheál Martin during a visit from UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini to Dublin. Martin emphasized the critical need for this funding, especially as other nations have suspended their contributions to the agency in light of the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

“In Gaza, we are bearing witness to a humanitarian catastrophe. People are in dire need of the most basic lifesaving provisions — food, water, shelter. In these most harrowing conditions, facing the prospect of further military escalation, UNRWA is the backbone of the humanitarian response. It urgently needs support from all UN Member States,” Martin stated. He further called on other donors to “resume and expand support to UNRWA so that it can deliver for the millions of Palestinian refugees in need.”

In addition to Ireland’s pledge, Spain and Portugal have also announced their support for UNRWA, with Spain committing an additional €3.5 million ($3.8 million) and Portugal €1 million ($1.1 million). These contributions are part of a broader international effort to support the agency amid investigations into Israeli accusations against a dozen of UNRWA’s 30,000 workers. Despite these allegations, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and several Middle Eastern countries have chosen not to suspend their funding, standing in solidarity with the Palestinian cause.

Martin has been vocal in his criticism of the funding suspensions, labeling them as “unconscionable” during a moment of extreme crisis in Gaza and based on claims by Israeli officials that have yet to be substantiated. “I was deeply concerned that a number of UNRWA key donors suspended their funding based on allegations against a very small number of staff that have yet to be proven,” he remarked, adding that Israel’s actions are in direct contradiction to the International Court of Justice’s orders to facilitate the provision of essential services and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza.

The situation in Gaza has reached a critical point, with Israeli forces blocking the entry of food, water, and other necessities for months, recently intensifying their efforts by halting all humanitarian aid. This blockade has led to desperate conditions for Palestinians, with reports of individuals consuming contaminated water and inedible food to survive. The UN’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification has found that a significant portion of Gaza’s population is facing severe food crises, with about 80 percent of the global famine-affected population currently residing in Gaza.

UNRWA’s role in providing essential services and coordinating aid is now under “existential threat,” according to Lazzarini, due to the funding suspensions. The agency’s inability to operate could have disastrous consequences for Palestinians in Gaza, highlighting the urgent need for resumed international support.

“The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza strip,” Martin continued. “Instead, Israel has launched a disinformation campaign against UNRWA.”

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