Spain goes against the tide with extra funding for UNRWA as donors suspend aid

AFP - [email protected]
Spain goes against the tide with extra funding for UNRWA as donors suspend aid
Palestinian men and children gather for a demonstration in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024, calling for continued international support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. (Photo by AFP)

Spain said Monday that it would give an additional €3.5 million ($3.8 million) in aid to the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, which is facing a cash crunch after several nations suspended their funding.


Over a dozen countries, including major donors the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden, have suspended their funding to the agency over accusations that 12 of its staff members were involved in the October 7th attacks in Israel by Hamas.

The UNRWA - which has received a Norwegian nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize - has warned that it will have to cease operations by the end of February if the funding is significantly pulled.


"Spain will release an urgent envelope of €3.5 million so that UNRWA can maintain its activities in the short term," Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares told a parliamentary committee.

"UNRWA's situation is desperate and there is a serious risk that its humanitarian activities will be paralysed in Gaza within a few weeks," he said.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Sunday that suspended total funds currently amount to "more than $440 million, or around half the agency's expected funds for 2024".

In response to the October 7th attack, which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mainly civilians, Israel vowed to wipe out Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week that the UN agency had been "totally infiltrated" by Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

Israel has responded to the attack with an air and ground offensive that has killed 27,365 people, mainly civilians, according to a Hamas health ministry toll updated Sunday.

Spain is one of the most critical voices in Europe of Israel's offensive against Hamas.


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