David Lammy calls for UK government to restore funding for UNRWA

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David Lammy calls for UK government to restore funding for UNRWA

Speaking in the Commons, the shadow foreign secretary described reports of the humanitarian situation in Gaza as 'a description of hell on earth'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

David Lammy
David Lammy

David Lammy has said it is “shocking” that the UK is one the last major donors who has not yet restored funding to the UN body for Palestinian refugees in the “face of famine” in Gaza.

Speaking in the Commons, having been granted an urgent question, the shadow foreign secretary described reports to him about the humanitarian situation in Gaza as being “a description of hell on earth.”

The Labour MP for Tottenham added:”It cannot go on.”

Directing his questions at government minister David Rutley, Lammy asked:”Why has the government not yet announced it’s restoring funding to UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees)?

“It’s shocking that in the face of famine, the UK is one of the last major donors that has not yet restored funding without explanation.”

Responding for the government, Rutley said it was recognised how UNRWA play an “important role” in distributing aid.

The Conservative minister said a report was due back at the end of the month, which the government would review, and then decide on whether to restore funding.

Lammy repeated a call for an “immediate ceasefire” to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, which he stressed “both sides must agree to comply with.”

He said it should be noted that “Hamas and their leader Sinwar rejected the latest ceasefire deal.”

In January several countries including the UK have paused funding for the UNRWA after the agency announced the sacking of several of its staff over allegations they were involved in the 7 October Hamas attacks.

Israel alleged that 12 employees at the agency were involved in the Hamas terror attacks.

Mark Regev, working as an adviser to the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the October 7th Hamas attacks had involved “people who are on their [UNRWA] salaries”.

David Rutley MP

He said there was information showing teachers working in UNRWA schools had “openly celebrated” the 7 October attacks.

Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA chief, said the decision to sack the staffers was taken “to protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance”.

“Any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution,” he added.

Pausing future funding at the time UK Government said it had made all its planned contributions to UNRWA in the 2023/24 financial year (£35 million).

It had promised to review the decision after seeking further talks with the Israeli government to discuss the extent of involvement in the October 7th atrocity by UNRWA staff/
The EU has since resumed funding to UNRWA, on the condition of an EU- appointed audit and governance reforms by UNRWA being carried out.

Created in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is the biggest UN agency operating in Gaza.

It provides health care, education and other humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. It employs around 13,000 people inside Gaza.

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