State Funding for UNRWA in Gaza

State Funding for UNRWA in Gaza

Deputy Marc Ó Cathasaigh

Over the course of the weekend a number of allegations surfaced relating to a small number of workers with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA. The allegations are serious in nature and I am in no way well placed to make an adjudication on whether they are well founded or otherwise but one thing of which I am absolutely certain – a view I share with Oxfam and 19 other NGOs – is that these services are a lifeline to people in critical need within Gaza. A collapse in financial support for these services would compound and exacerbate what is an already atrocious situation. Is the State fully committed to maintaining our funding to UNRWA and what we are doing on the international stage to ensure the instigation and continuity of humanitarian aid into Gaza?

The Taoiseach

I thank the Deputy. I was really shocked and appalled to hear that it was even possible that UN staff would have been involved in the terrorist attack on 7 October. If it turns out to be true, I think it will do damage to the agency.

It is a very serious matter. Even if it is a small number of staff in a very big agency, it is shocking to think that UN staff could be involved in any form of terrorist attack. It does need to be investigated thoroughly. We have taken the decision, however, not to suspend our funding to the agency. The people of Palestine need humanitarian aid, healthcare, and education and it would be a disproportionate response to suspend our funding. For that reason, we are among a number of countries, perhaps even one of the first countries, to say that we will continue to fund the agency. We are providing €36 million this year to help Palestinians, of which €18 million goes to UNRWA. We have confidence in Philippe Lazzarini to immediately terminate the contracts of the small number of employees suspected of involvement in terrorism.