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HIMAM urges donor countries to restore funding to UNRWA

By JT - Jan 29,2024 - Last updated at Jan 29,2024

A Palestinian woman walks in front of the entrance of the UNRWA-run University College for Educational Science Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank on Monday (AFP photo)

AMMAN — The coalition of Jordanian human rights civil society organisations, HIMAM, has expressed “regret” over decision made by some UNRWA key donors to suspend their funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency. 

A number of donor countries, including US and Germany, have paused funding for the UNRWA after allegations by Israel that a dozen of its 13,000 staff in Gaza were involved in the October 7 attack on Israel.

HIMAM described the decision to cut funding as “hasty” and “dangerous”, hindering the implementation of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) provisional measures order against Israel.

In its ruling last week, ICJ called for maintaining humanitarian assistance into the war-torn Gaza. 

“The decision came following an announcement issued by the Israeli occupation state of the alleged participation of several agency employees in the Hamas attack [on October 7]. To avoid any consequences, the UN agency has terminated the services of these employees and announced the opening of an investigation into the matter,” HIMAM said in a statement to The Jordan Times. 

“It is dangerous for donor countries to rely on a mere claim issued by the Israeli intelligence services, which they said was based on their investigations with detainees belonging to the Hamas movement. The danger of this step lies in the fact that assuming the existence of honest confessions issued by detainees, these confessions are illegitimate. By exposing detainees to torture and extracting confessions from them, these confessions or testimonies are legally worthless under fair trial standards,” It said. 

The organisation regretted the decision made by donor countries to defund UNRWA based on “on unproven allegations, and before the completion of the investigation or confirming the results”.

The fund cuts, it said, “constitute a fatal decision against hundreds of thousands of Palestinians… and a retreat from their responsibilities towards the UN relief agency. Such decisions put civilians who depend on UNRWA services for their survival at risk of death”.

“The suspending funding for UNRWA by these countries comes after Israel killed approximately 150 UNRWA workers, according to the United Nations data, and these countries did not lift a finger to hold the Israeli occupying state accountable for that.”

HIMAM called on the countries that announced the suspension of funding for UNRWA to reconsider their decisions “without delay and wait for the results of an independent investigation”. These donors must realise that the consequences of the collapse of UNRWA will hinder its humanitarian response to the Israeli war on Gaza and will incur a heavy humanitarian price whose consequences cannot be remedied.”

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