Gaza: the European Union will release 50 million euros for UNRWA after an agreement on its audit

The European Union has reached an agreement with the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) to release 50 million euros for the institution, the European Commission announced on Friday March 1.

Since the agency was accused by Israel of having among its employees terrorists who participated in the October 7 attacks, its international funding was threatened, in particular that of Europeans.

The damaged headquarters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in Gaza City, February 15, 2024. © AFP

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To enable the payment of European funds, the Commission “ 

reached an agreement with

 ” UNRWA (the United Nations relief and works agency for Palestine refugees in the Middle East) allowing the release of 50 million 'euros.

The agency has been weakened

since Israel accused twelve of its employees in January of being involved in the October 7 attack launched by Hamas and which triggered the ongoing war between Israel and this Palestinian Islamist movement in power in Gaza. .

Faced with these accusations,

UNRWA immediately separated itself from these employees but very quickly a dozen countries, including major donors such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden,

announced to suspend their financing to the agency


At the end of January, the European Union called for an audit of the functioning of UNRWA.

The Commission then specified that it would decide, or not, to suspend its funding based on the results of the UN investigation carried out in the wake of the Israeli accusations.

Read alsoUNRWA, an essential role in the Middle East: overview

Request for guarantees on controls

The Commission promised a month ago not to take a decision on the European Union's financial contribution to UNRWA before the end of the investigation.

But she still asked for guarantees on the UN agency's control systems, reports our correspondent in Brussels,

Pierre Benazet


This Friday, it accepts the conditions set a month ago by the Commission, namely to first strengthen its internal investigations department.

Then, the agency says it is “ 

ready for an examination of its employees to be conducted to confirm that none participated in the attacks

 ” of October 7 and “ 

for additional controls to be established to limit this risk in the future

 ,” the statement said.

Unrwa also accepts an “ 

audit carried out by external experts appointed by the EU


In return, the Commission announced that it would make 

 a payment of 50 million euros “

at the beginning of next week ”.

Subsequently, in view of the application of the agreement, an additional 32 million will be paid, i.e. the remainder of the envelope planned by the EU for UNRWA in 2024.

A decision that “ 

comes at the right time



decision "  comes at


right time

 , reacted on

"Israel to dismantle and freeze donor funding in the face of unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza


The EU had not strictly speaking frozen its funding: no payments were planned for February.

On the other hand, seven European countries have suspended their contributions including Italy, the Netherlands and especially Germany, the largest donor to the UN agency after the United States.

Beyond its support for UNRWA, created in 1949, the European Commission also announced on Friday that it would allocate an additional 68 million euros in emergency aid to the Palestinians in 2024.

Administering a number of schools and hospitals

, UNRWA employs some 30,000 people in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as well as in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

Cutting funding from the UN agency would be “ 

disproportionate and dangerous


It “ 

would endanger hundreds of thousands of lives

 ”, estimated the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell in early February.

Read also If UNRWA disappears, the Palestinians lose “one of the main symbols of their recognition”


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