Saudi Arabia boosts funding to UNRWA by $40 million targeting Gaza relief

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 8:56 AM

RIYADH (Reuters) – A Saudi-funded humanitarian agency pledged on Wednesday to boost the kingdom’s funding to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) by $40 million, according to a statement.

The donation by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), which is dedicated to Gaza, comes as UNRWA faces a severe funding crunch after the United States and Britain paused support following Israel’s accusations that a dozen of its 13,000 staff in Gaza took part in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on the country.

UNRWA manages shelters, and provides food and healthcare for nearly 2 million people in Gaza, according to its website.

A U.N.-backed report warned on Monday that northern Gaza faced imminent famine and as global pressure mounts on Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into the enclave of 2.3 million people.

Canada, Australia, and Sweden have recently restored funding to UNRWA, while several Gulf countries, in addition to Saudi Arabia have increased funding.

But that still may not be enough. “The U.S. is our largest, largest donor so no amount of compensation by other donors, as generous as they are, can actually fill the gap that is left by the U.S.,” said Tamara al-Rifai, an UNRWA spokesperson.

Saudi Arabia previously announced a $2 million contribution to UNRWA in October, while KSrelief provided $15 million to the agency in November.

(Reporting by Pesha Magid; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)