The Netherlands will temporarily stop financing the UN aid organization UNRWA, which provides assistance to Palestinian refugees. Minister Van Leeuwen for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation confirmed this News hour in US.
“We are extremely shocked. The accusation is that the attack was committed on October 7 with UN money, with our money,” says Van Leeuwen. The Netherlands will not make any new payments to the UN aid organization for the time being.
The Netherlands joins a growing list of countries that are suspending support to the organization pending an investigation into the alleged involvement of a number of UNRWA employees in the terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7.
The United States, UNRWA’s largest donor, was the first to announce its suspension of funding, followed by Australia, Canada and Italy. Finland and the United Kingdom have also frozen financial support for UNRWA in the Gaza Strip.
Yesterday, UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini announced an investigation into the possible involvement of several aid agency employees in the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7. He did this based on information from the Israeli authorities. The employees were fired immediately, Lazzarini said.
“Shocking and irresponsible”
He now mentions it in one statement “shocking” that countries are suspending their financing. In his view, it is “hugely irresponsible” to punish the entire organization and an entire community because of accusations against a few individuals.
He calls on countries to reconsider their decision before UNRWA is forced to suspend humanitarian aid. “The lives of the people of Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability.”
The UNRWA chief says he is taking these measures so as not to endanger humanitarian aid. According to the organization, the more than 2 million people in the Gaza Strip are dependent on the aid provided by the organization.
UNRWA condemned the attack and called for the release of all Israeli hostages by Hamas, Lazzarini said. “Anyone who betrays the fundamental values of the United Nations also betrays those we serve in Gaza, in the region and around the world.”
The Netherlands also donates money to organizations in the Gaza Strip, including UNRWA. This could count on 19 million euros in Dutch support in the 2023 budget. Last month, the Netherlands provided the organization with an additional amount of 10 million euros.
Outgoing Minister Van Leeuwen said yesterday on X that he was shocked about the alleged involvement of UNRWA employees in the Hamas attack.
The Netherlands would take the outcome of the announced investigation into account when considering whether to continue to provide financial support to the UN organization, van Leeuwen wrote. “In the meantime, the Netherlands will continue to provide humanitarian support to the civilian population of Gaza.” The Netherlands also supports other organizations in the Gaza Strip, such as the Red Cross.
On Thursday, Van Leeuwen will have a meeting with UNRWA CEO Lazzarini in which he will ask for clarification.
It is not the first time that the Netherlands has suspended support for UNRWA. In 2019, support was also temporarily stopped due to: abuses in the leadership of the UN organization.
Leader Hussein Sheikh of the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, has called on the countries on The halt poses major political and humanitarian risks, according to the head of the PLO.
The post first appeared on nos.nl