Germany to restart funding for UNRWA after independent report

Israeli right-wing protesters look at a banner hung on the entrance to the UNRWA, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, headquarters in Jerusalem on March 20. Germany said it will start funding the organization again. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI

April 24 (UPI) -- Germany said it plans to resume funding the United Nations Release Agency for Palestinian Refugees after joining more than a dozen other countries in suspending support amid allegations that employees were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

Germany's Federal Foreign Office and Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development issued a joint statement announcing that the country would "shortly resume its cooperation with UNRWA in Gaza" following the release of a U.N.-commissioned report that found Israel did not offer enough evidence to support the claims.

"By resuming our acute cooperation, we are supporting the vital and currently irreplaceable role played by UNRWA in meeting the basic needs of the people in Gaza -- since other international aid organizations, too, currently rely on UNRWA's operative structures there," the agencies said.

UNRWA has long been the main conduit for humanitarian support for Palestinians while Israel had complained for years that Hamas had hijacked it.

The report, led by former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, found that the UNRWA regularly provided lists of employees to Israel for vetting and had not been informed by the government of "any concerns relating to any UNRWA staff based on these staff lists since 2011.

It also recommended increasing internal oversight of UNRWA, improving external monitoring of external project management, continuing to regularly share staff lists with Israel and expanding internal training.

Germany said those recommendations "must now be implemented without delay."

"Germany will liaise closely with its key international partners on the disbursement of further funding," it said. "UNRWA's short-term financing needs in Gaza are currently covered by existing funding."

Sixteen countries, including Germany, suspended payments to UNRWA totaling $450 million after Israel charged that 12 of its workers took part in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on the country, sparking Israel's long military response.

Since the pause, Australia, Canada, Japan and Sweden have started to fund UNRWA again as doubts started to be raised about the accuracy of Israel's allegation. The independent report claimed that Israel never provided information about its charges. Britain said it would wait for the report to be officially published before deciding to restart funding.