The federal government must suspend funds to UNRWA

30 January 2024

Several countries recently temporarily suspended their funding to UN aid agency UNRWA, which provides assistance to Palestinian refugees. UN funds were allegedly used in the 7 October terrorist attack and UNRWA staff members were allegedly involved or aware of it. According to the Wall Street Journal, 1,200 UNRWA staff members in Gaza are believed to be active Hamas or Islamic Jihad terrorists. MP Kathleen Depoorter comments: “UNRWA must urgently investigate its operation in Gaza and the federal government must suspend financial support to UNRWA until then.”

“The rumours are serious,” says Kathleen Depoorter. “Thorough investigation of this issue must be possible. As an organisation, the UN must be above any hint of suspicion, or it simply cannot play its neutral role. If anything comes to light during that investigation, the UN must do its utmost to conduct a thorough clean-up within the organisation.”

Belgium continues support

Until the investigation provides clarity, the federal government would do well to freeze financial aid to UNRWA, Depoorter says: “After learning of the possible participation of UNRWA staff members in the 7 October massacre, several Western countries (US, Netherlands, Italy, Canada, France, UK, etc.) withdrew their support. Under the leadership of Minister for Development Cooperation Gennez, Belgium did not. Incomprehensible.”

Fixed view

“We need to take an objective and balanced view of the Middle East conflict in order to take steps towards de-escalation. That balance has apparently been lost in recent years, possibly out of sympathy for the Palestinian position. That is not only a problem for the UN, but also a view on which successive Vooruit party ministers have been fixed. Despite the many warnings that development cooperation aid intended for the Palestinians ends up with possible terrorists, they continue to refuse to investigate the matter thoroughly and often claim that there was no problem and that all evidence to the contrary is pro-Israeli fake news. Perhaps it is better to disregard the propaganda and investigate the facts with complete neutrality,” says Depoorter.

Find alternatives

However, any abuses within UNRWA must not be an excuse to stop humanitarian aid to Gazans. Depoorter: “The government must explore alternatives to get humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza independently of UNRWA, for example, through the Red Cross.”

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