Norway calls on donors to resume funding to Palestinian UNRWA agency

By Thomson Reuters Apr 23, 2024 | 11:14 AM

OSLO (Reuters) – Norway called on international donors on Tuesday to resume payments to the UN agency for Palestinians refugees (UNRWA) after a report found Israel had yet to provide evidence that some UNRWA staff were linked to terrorist groups.

The United States, Britain and others earlier this year paused payments to UNRWA following Israel’s claims, while Norway, also a major donor to the organisation, argued that funding cuts put the population of Gaza at risk.

A review of the agency’s neutrality led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna on Monday concluded Israel had yet to back up its accusations that hundreds of UNRWA staff were operatives in Gaza terrorist groups.

“I would now like to call on countries that have still frozen their contributions to UNRWA to resume funding,” Norway’s foreign minister Espen Barth Eide said in a statement.

A separate investigation by internal U.N. investigators is looking into Israeli allegations that 12 UNRWA staff took part in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks which triggered the Gaza war.

“Norway has emphasized that it is unacceptable to punish an entire organisation, with 30,000 employees, and all Palestine refugees for the alleged misdeeds of a small number of the organisation’s employees,” Barth Eide said.

While 10 countries have since ended their suspensions, the United States, Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria and Lithuania have not. A U.N. spokesperson on Monday said UNRWA currently had enough funding to pay for operations until June.

(Reporting by Terje Solsvik; Editing by Ros Russell)