Saudi Arabia condemns attempts to undermine UNRWA after Western nations cut off funding

Saudi Arabia condemns attempts to undermine UNRWA after Western nations cut off funding
The Saudi ambassador to the UN has condemned Israel’s ‘incitement campaign’ against UNRWA, promising funding for the beleaguered agency.
2 min read
05 March, 2024
Saudi Arabia has promised more funding to UNRWA [Getty]

Saudi Arabia’s envoy to the United Nations on Monday condemned efforts to undermine the role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip.

Abdul Aziz Al-Wasel said that Saudi Arabia was keen to continue backing UNRWA as it struggles to provide services to Gazans at risk of famine and disease, and said that "additional funding" would be announced soon, the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat website reported.

Al-Wasel also condemned the "incitement campaign carried out by the Israeli government against UNRWA", as well as Israel’s continued assault on Gaza, which has killed over 30,000 people, displaced 80 percent of the devastated Palestinian territory’s population, and recently led to the starvation deaths of children.

The UNRWA agency has suffered from financial difficulties for years amid a failure by Arab and Western states to provide it with funding.

This was exacerbated recently when 16 Western nations completely withdrew funding from the agency after Israel alleged that some Gazan UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel.

Amnesty International denounced the decision to cut off funding as “cruel” and “inhumane”.

Also on Monday, UNRWA chief Phillipe Lazzarini said that the beleaguered agency was facing “a deliberate and concerted campaign” to end its operations, also criticising Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “openly stating that UNRWA will not be part of post-war Gaza".

"The implementation of this plan is already underway with the destruction of our infrastructure across the Gaza Strip," he said. "Dismantling UNRWA is short-sighted. By doing so, we will sacrifice an entire generation of children, sowing the seeds of hatred, resentment, and future conflict."

Israel, which has targeted hospitals and UNRWA schools where civilians were sheltering in its devastating and indiscriminate campaign against the Gaza Strip, has claimed that UNRWA employs 450 Hamas "military operatives". It has failed to provide any evidence for these allegations.