Norway warns of 'consequences' of cutting funds to UN Palestinian refugee agency

Norway warns of 'consequences' of cutting funds to UN Palestinian refugee agency
Norway has urged countries that have cut funding to the agency to consider the consequences of their actions on the population in Gaza
2 min read
Norwegian foreign minister Espen Barth Eide says UNRWA donors must "reflect on wider consequences" of cutting funding [Getty]

Norway, one of the few major donors to have maintained aid to the embattled UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA, warned other donors Wednesday of the consequences of suspending funding.

We are discussing the question of funding with other donors and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks," Espen Barth Eide told news agency Reuters, adding Oslo was standing by its "strong commitment to the agency, and to the Palestinian people".

"We urge fellow donor countries to reflect on the wider consequences of cutting their funding to UNRWA," he said.

"UNWRA is a vital lifeline for 1.5 million refugees in Gaza. Now more than ever, the agency needs international support," said the minister.

"To avoid collectively punishing millions of people, we need to distinguish between what individuals may have done and what UNRWA stands for."

Eide said Norwegian officials were informed of the allegations just ahead of the UN's press release on Friday.

"We have not been briefed by Israeli authorities on the matter," he said.

Thirteen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, Britain and Sweden, have suspended funding to the UN agency over Israeli claims that 12 on its staff members were involved in the October 7 attack by Hamas.

The attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,140 people, according to Israeli official figures. Emerging evidence indicates that some were killed by Israeli forces on the day.

Hamas also seized about 250 hostages. Israel says 132 of them remain in Gaza, including at least 29 deceased. Hamas has blamed Israel for killing several of the hostages in airstrikes.

Israel's war on Gaza has killed at least 26,900 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.

The heads of several UN organisations on Wednesday also warned that defunding UNRWA, which has around 30,000 staff members, risked a "catastrophic" humanitarian collapse in Gaza.