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Palestinians carry bags of flour they grabbed from an aid truck in Gaza City on February 19 (OSV News/Kosay Al Nemer, Reuters)

Australia will resume its $6 million in funding to the United Nations’ “lifesaving” aid agency in Gaza, more than a month after it suspended its support and amid growing concerns about the worsening humanitarian crisis. Source: Herald Sun.

Australia was among more than a dozen donor countries that paused funding to the UNRWA in late January after Israel alleged 12 staff members were involved in the Hamas attacks.

On Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said the Government had received assurances that UNRWA itself was not a terrorist organisation, and additional safeguards would “sufficiently protect” Australian taxpayer funding.

“On that basis, and after consideration by the national security committee this week, Australia is unpausing our contribution to UNRWA,” Senator Wong said.

“There are two facts a responsible government can’t ignore in relation to UNRWA. They do lifesaving work and the recent allegations were grave.

“So the decision I am announcing today is the result of the Australian Government working together with our partners to rebuild confidence, to establish ongoing diligence about the use of aid money generously given by the Australian people.”

Senator Wong also announced an additional $4 million to UNICEF to provide urgent services and $2 million to an arm of the UN dedicated to facilitating expanded humanitarian access into Gaza.

She called on Israel to cooperate with efforts to allow more food and aid into Gaza “now”.

The announcement came after a joint statement by the Caritas agencies of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada urging the Australian Government to restore funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The agencies also called on “the prime ministers and governments of Australia, Canada and New Zealand to deploy all diplomatic, political, legal and economic means possible” to bring a permanent end to the conflict, the release of all hostages and the establishment of guaranteed humanitarian corridors to permit the safe and efficient delivery of food and aid. 


Penny Wong says Australia will resume UNRWA funding for Gaza (By Ellen Ransley, Herald Sun)  

Gaza crisis joint statement by Caritas agencies of Australia, Canada and New Zealand (Caritas Australia)