Cutting UN funds to Gaza puts 'hundreds of thousands' at risk, says EU

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has warned that moves to suspend the funding of UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA were extremely ill-advised.

Speaking on Sunday, Borrell said: "Defunding UNRWA would be both disproportionate and dangerous," referring to the UN agency which is embroiled in controversy over the alleged involvement of employees in the 7 October attack by Hamas on Israel.

"While some important donors suspended funding, there is a wide recognition that UNRWA is central to providing vital aid to more than 1.1 million people in Gaza suffering from catastrophic hunger and the outbreak of diseases."

"Defunding the agency would put hundreds of thousands of lives at risk," Borrell stressed.

Investigation into UNRWA underway

He added in a blog article that "the agency has taken immediate steps and launched an investigation," calling the allegations serious and which should not go unpunished if true.

His comments come with more than a dozen countries – including major donors the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden – having suspended funding to UNRWA over accusations that 12 staff members were involved in the 7 October attack.

Late last month, the EU requested an audit of UNRWA, and said will review future funding in light of a UN investigation already being carried out into the claims.

Borrell added that the total of suspended funds currently amounts to "more than $440 million, or around half the agency's expected funds for 2024."

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