Switzerland proposes $11 million UNRWA donation in Gaza

Switzerland proposes $11 million UNRWA donation in Gaza
Switzerland said it recognises the 'critical nature of this situation and the urgent need for action' in Gaza, ravaged by seven months of war.
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Switzerland previously suspended funding to UNRWA after Israel accused some members of its staff of being involved in the October 7 Hamas attacks [Getty/file photo]

Switzerland is proposing to give $11 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, specifically for tackling the humanitarian crisis in Gaza triggered by the war waged by Israel in Gaza.

The government's proposal, announced Wednesday after weeks of procrastination, represents half of the amount which was initially set to be paid to the UNRWA agency in 2024.

"Switzerland's 10 million Swiss francs contribution to UNRWA will be restricted to Gaza and will cover the most pressing basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, basic healthcare and logistics," a government statement said.

Switzerland "is fully aware of the critical nature of this situation and recognises the urgent need for action".

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 being involved in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

This led many donor nations, including the United States and Switzerland, to abruptly suspend funding to the agency, threatening its efforts to deliver desperately-needed aid in Gaza, where the UN has warned of an impending famine.

Israel had failed repeatedly to provide any evidence proving their allegations against UNRW staff, several probes have been stopped and suspended since.

Furthermore, an independent review group of UNRWA, led by French former foreign minister Catherine Colonna, found some "neutrality-related issues" but said Israel had yet to provide evidence for its chief allegations.

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In making its decision, the Swiss government said it "drew on the analysis of the Colonna report and coordination with other donors".

The government's decision must still be submitted to parliament's foreign affairs committees for consultation.

On April 30, the Swiss head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, said that of the $450 million in funding that had been frozen by donors, $267 million was still suspended, the bulk of it by Washington.

Israel has conducted a deadly military offensive that has killed more than 34,800 people in Gaza in over seven months, mostly women and children, while the humanitarian situation becomes increasingly dire.

Switzerland "reiterates its call for a humanitarian ceasefire, unhindered access for emergency aid to Gaza, compliance with international humanitarian law, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages," the government said.