Norway boosts funding for UNRWA by $9.3 million

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Norway said Monday that it was increasing its funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) by 100 million kroner ($9.3 million).

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since January, when Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of involvement in the unprecedented October 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war.

That prompted several countries, including top donor the United States, to suspend funding to the agency, though many have since resumed payments.

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“UNRWA is the backbone of the humanitarian response in Gaza,” Norway’s minister for international development, Anne Beathe Kristiansen Tvinnereim, said in a statement.

“The war, accusations made by Israel, continuous attacks on the organisation and funds withheld by major donors, have put UNRWA in an extremely difficult financial situation,” she said.

An independent review of UNRWA, led by former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna, found some “neutrality-related issues” but said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its main allegations.

The additional 100 million kroner comes on top of 275 million kroner Norway announced for the agency in February, according to the country’s foreign ministry, which noted that nearly 200 of the agency’s staff had been killed since the start of the war in Gaza.

The war began after Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 37,347 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-ruled territory’s health ministry.

Last week, G7 leaders said that UNRWA must be allowed to work unhindered in the war-torn region.

After a summit meeting in Italy last week, the Group of Seven nations called for all parties to facilitate “rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need” in Gaza, particularly women and children.

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