In defiance of recent decisions by several nations to halt their financial support, Norway has stepped forward to allocate $26 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine refugees.
The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, declared the move on Thursday, emphasising the critical role UNRWA plays in providing essential humanitarian assistance to Palestinians. “Today, Norway transfers $26 million to UNRWA, the UN Agency that supports Palestinian refugees,” stated Eide. He underscored the vital nature of UNRWA’s services, particularly in Gaza, where millions face dire circumstances.
Since its establishment in 1950, UNRWA has been instrumental in delivering crucial aid, including food, healthcare, education, and shelter, to Palestinian refugees. The agency relies on voluntary contributions from member states of the United Nations.
With 5.9 million Palestinian refugees reliant on its assistance, UNRWA’s significance cannot be overstated. However, its operations have faced challenges, including repeated strikes on its facilities by Israel, resulting in the destruction of essential supplies.
Recent tensions escalated further when Israel accused UNRWA staff of involvement in an attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on October 7, resulting in significant casualties. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an urgent investigation into these allegations, which UNRWA has pledged to undertake.
In response to these developments, several countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, and others, have opted to temporarily suspend their financial contributions to UNRWA. However, Norway, alongside Ireland and Spain, has committed to maintaining its support for the agency, despite the political pressures at play.