Norway gives $26 million to UNRWA this year, more could come

By Thomson Reuters Feb 9, 2024 | 9:05 AM

By Gwladys Fouche

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway is giving 275 million crowns ($26 million) this year to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and could increase that sum if needed, it said on Friday, days after the agency warned it could cease all activity by the end of the month.

A string of countries including the United States, Germany and Britain paused their funding to the aid agency after accusations by Israel last month that some UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks in southern Israel.

Norway, a top donor to UNRWA, is maintaining its funding.

UNRWA said on Feb. 1 that it could be forced to shut down its operations in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, by the end of February if its funding remains suspended.

Oslo said on Wednesday it was transferring 275 million crowns to UNRWA. On Friday the ministry of foreign affairs said that money covered Norway’s regular, annual contribution to UNRWA, but that there could be additional payments.

“Due to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, there may be additional funds from Norway to UNRWA throughout the year,” said a foreign ministry spokesperson.

By comparison, Norway gave UNRWA 470.5 million crowns last year, she said. “This includes additional funding after the war started in October,” she said.

“There is a shortage of all essential items and people are facing daily threats to their lives and safety. UNRWA is the backbone of humanitarian efforts in Gaza,” Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in a statement on Wednesday.

Oslo said on Jan. 31 it was urging countries that have paused funding to consider the wider consequences of their actions on the population in Gaza, given UNRWA is the main organisation supplying aid to Palestinians.

($1 = 10.6041 Norwegian crowns)

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Frances Kerry)