Australia resumes Gaza funding amid allegations of ties to Hamas

After a temporary halt, Australian government reinstates funding to controversial UN relief agency in Gaza.

Australia resumes Gaza funding amid allegations of ties to Hamas
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The Australian federal government has decided to reinstate funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) after a two-month pause prompted by accusations of the agency's alleged ties with Hamas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong confirmed on Friday that Australia would be releasing $6 million in taxpayer funding to assist in delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, claiming the move is aimed at "alleviating the dire situation in the Palestinian territory."

At a press conference in Adelaide, Wong stated:

"The best available current advice from agencies and the Australian government lawyers is that UNRWA is not a terrorist organisation and that existing and additional safeguards sufficiently protect Australian taxpayer funding."

Addressing the seriousness of the allegations against UNRWA, Wong claimed that Australia had collaborated with international bodies to ensure an immediate and appropriate response.

Accusations of UNRWA's links with Hamas emerged earlier this year, following reports that some of its staff were involved in attacks on Israel in October.

It comes as federal and state governments have come under crticism for not doing enough to support Australians struggling with the cost of living crisis and increased concerns over rising homelessness.

Australia's decision follows similar moves by other international donors, including Canada and the European Union, to resume funding to UNRWA.

The U.S, however, remains steadfast in its freeze on funding to the agency, maintaining its stance as the largest contributor within the group of Western democracies.

As part of the reinstatement, UNRWA has developed an action plan outlining stringent safeguards to ensure neutrality and transparency in its operations, including staff neutrality and supply chain integrity.

Wong reiterated Australia's "commitment to supporting Palestinians" while selling the stringent conditions in the updated funding agreement with UNRWA.

Recent reports have detailed allegations against UNRWA staff, prompting concerns about the agency's involvement with extremist activities.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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