Washington, DC [US]: The US has temporarily paused additional funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in light of recent allegations that the agency’s employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Secretary of State Antony J Blinken spoke with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on January 25 to emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter, the US State Department said in a statement.
Notably, on October 7, more than 3,000 women, children and men, ranging from the age of 9 months to 80 years in Israel were attacked by the terror group Hamas. Many women were brutally raped and killed. Around 1,405 people lost their lives, and over 200 were taken as hostages.
US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said: “The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.”
He said the State Department has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA “while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
Miller said the US welcomes the UN’s decision to investigate the matter.
“We welcome the decision to conduct such an investigation and Secretary General Guterres’ pledge to take decisive action to respond, should the allegations prove accurate. We also welcome the UN’s announcement of a ‘comprehensive and independent’ review of UNRWA. There must be complete accountability for anyone who participated in the heinous attacks of October 7,” the US State Department spokesperson said.
Miller said UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support. “Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures.”
The US has meanwhile reached out to the Israel government to seek more information about these allegations, and “we have briefed Members of Congress. We will remain in close contact with the United Nations and Israeli government regarding this matter,” he added. (ANI)