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Saudi Arabia donates $40 million to UNRWA

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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday it will donate $40 million to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, which has faced massive funding cuts and calls for its abolition spearheaded by Israel.

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief) said the funds would support UNRWA’s “humanitarian relief efforts in the Gaza Strip”, where the crisis has raged for more than five months.

“The funding will provide food for more than 250,000 people and tents for 20,000 families,” KSrelief said in a statement.

The UN agency, created in 1949, has come under heavy scrutiny after Israel accused about a dozen of its employees of involvement in the October 7 Hamas raid on southern Israel.

Multiple countries have suspended their aid, although the United Nations has said that Israel has not provided it with any evidence for the allegations.

The UN has launched both an internal and an independent investigation into the claims.

“It is crucial to address the desperate needs of the people in Gaza,” said KSrelief chief Abdullah al-Rabeeah.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said the donation “reflects the solidarity that the kingdom has always shown Palestinians”.

UNRWA employs around 30,000 people in the occupied Palestinian territories — including 13,000 in Gaza — as well as neighbouring Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Lazzarini, a veteran of UN and other humanitarian missions, said last month that he believed Israel’s aim was “destroying UNRWA”, long at the forefront of relief efforts and education in Gaza.

Humanitarian aid efforts have intensified in recent weeks, including airdrops and the launching of a maritime humanitarian corridor from Cyprus, but the UN and other aid agencies warn that these are insufficient to meet the desperate needs in Gaza.

Published in Dawn, March 21st, 2024


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