Free Palestine Melbourne - Freedom and Justice for Palestine and its People.

Aid Diverted to Terror

by admin

30 January 2024, Herald-Sun, by Kathryn Bermingham with Ellen Ransley, Eleanor Campbell and NCA NewsWire

Australia has handed over about $200m over the past decade to a UN aid agency that sacked workers for participation in Hamas’ attack on Israel – including $20m as recently as last year.

The federal government has been accused of ignoring warnings about the involvement of UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) workers before an extra $6m for the agency was announced on January 16.

A pause has now been placed on the funds, which had not yet been released. But the government’s $20m in 2023-24 “core funding” for UNRWA was paid out early in the financial year.

The Australian government contributed about $20m a year to the organisation between 2012-2020, before the Coalition halved the amount to $10m a year in 2020.

But the Labor government has since restored the figure to $20m – with the total contribution over the past decade reaching about $200m.

The UNRWA for Palestine funds services such as schools, medical clinics and food for Palestinian refugees, who mostly live in camps in the West Bank and Gaza as well as nearby countries.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong did not comment on Monday after she over the weekend confirmed Australia would join the US, the UK and others in pausing funding for the agency amid an investigation into Israel’s claims that 12 employees were involved in the attacks.

Senator Wong said Australia was deeply concerned about the allegations but recognised the “vital, lifesaving work” the agency had performed in Gaza.

“Australia will continue to support the people of Gaza and work to provide humanitarian assistance. We reiterate our calls for civilians to be protected and for humanitarian access,” she said.

The UN has called on the member states to resume funding, but Coalition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Labor had let Australians down by not acting sooner.

“The Albanese government has questions to answer over why they ignored warnings from the Australian Jewish community and others that were provided last year about the potential involvement of UNRWA staff,” he said.

“Not only did they ignore those warnings, but in fact they increased funding to UNRWA following the receipt of those warnings, rather than looking for absolutely fail-safe mechanisms to provide the humanitarian assistance that of course people in Gaza need and deserve for innocent civilians.”

Jewish Community Council spokesman Norman Schueler said his group has been “questioning the credibility of UNRWA for years”.

“We have told the Australian government not to waste taxpayers’ funds on the UN,” he said.

Senator Wong met with the head of UNRWA during her recent visit to the Middle East.

Article link: https://todayspaper.heraldsun.com.au/infinity/article_popover_share.aspx?guid=cf17228a-4339-47e6-b4e0-a723a3a4d230&share=true
Article source: Herald-Sun | Kathryn Bermingham with Ellen Ransley, Eleanor Campbell and NCA NewsWire |30 January 2024

2024-02-22 05:36:48.000000