Sweden halts funding to UN agency for Palestinian refugees

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Sweden halts funding to UN agency for Palestinian refugees
Stockholm: Sweden has said it has temporarily halted funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees following Israel’s allegations that its staff participated in the Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7, 2023.

Swedish Television (SVT) reported on Tuesday that the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) has paused its payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

The Swedish government pledged to fund UNRWA with 400 million Swedish kronor ($38.4 million) this year, but 31 million kronor is currently withheld, SVT reported.

It said the withheld funding will instead go to organisations such as the World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross, Xinhua news agency reported.

The UNRWA said last Friday that it had decided to “immediately terminate the contracts” of the staff members involved and to “launch an investigation”.

“We await the result of the ongoing investigation and will not pay out any money until it is ready,” Johan Tjerneng, a press officer at SIDA, told SVT.

Countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Germany and Australia have previously said that they will temporarily suspend funding for the UNRWA.

On Sunday, the Cairo-based pan-Arab bloc Arab League criticised the recent Western suspension of funding for the UNRWA, saying that it was “irresponsible” as it would further impact the already vulnerable Palestinians.

The UNRWA, established as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly in 1949, serves to support the relief and human development of Palestinian refugees and is entrusted with the mission of providing humanitarian assistance and protection to registered Palestinian refugees in the agency’s operational areas until a just and lasting solution to their plight is achieved. (1 Swedish krona = $0.096)


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