Funding UNRWA Cannot Be Stopped: EU’s Borrell

Funding UNRWA Cannot Be Stopped: EU’s Borrell

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – The EU foreign policy chief said cutting funds for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees or UNRWA is tantamount to collective punishment.

Josep Borrell on Thursday said UNRWA cannot stop working, otherwise, he warned that it would mean punishing hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza.

"We certainly will talk about also the situation in the Middle East and the dire situation in Gaza," Borrell told reporters ahead of the EU leaders' meeting in Brussels where a number of issues are expected to be discussed, including supporting Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East.

About the investigation that has been launched over Israeli allegations that some of UNRWA's staff were allegedly involved in the October 7 operation against Israel, Borrell said the investigation has to be done.

"But we cannot make a collective punishment to the Palestinian people," he noted, adding that he would stress the importance of continuing to support UNRWA.

"UNRWA is something that cannot stop working, otherwise hundreds of thousands of people will be punished," added Borrell, Anadolu Agency reported.

He noted that funding cannot be stopped to keep Palestinian people alive: "Investigation has to be done but one thing is one thing and another thing is another thing."

The EU has not decided to stop funding the UNWRA, Borrell said, stressing that he is "fully supporting" the position of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in this regard.

On Wednesday, Guterres voiced support for the UNWRA, saying it is the "backbone" of all humanitarian response in Gaza.

Some countries, including Germany, Italy, the UK, US, France, and Japan have suspended their funding for UNRWA, which was established in 1949 to help Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Norway, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, and Belgium announced that they will not suspend funding.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, killing at least 26,900 Palestinians and injuring 65,949.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

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