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Close Down UNRWA

Western nations must not continue to contribute to a UN agency that is effectively controlled by a terrorist organization.

· 12 min read
Close Down UNRWA
Palestinian refugees gather with national flags outside the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza City on June 20, 2023, to protest cuts in aid. Shutterstock.

Last week, Australian foreign minister Penny Wong indicated that Canberra may soon resume government funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), despite mounting evidence that the organization is a Hamas subsidizer, employer, and collaborator. The agency has long been a focus of criticism and controversy, but funding was at last suspended by Australia, the UK, the US, and other donor countries following allegations that 12 UNRWA employees were involved in the October 7 massacre of Israeli civilians last year.

However, if Australian funding of UNRWA is resumed, and if other donors follow suit, it would be a disaster—not just for Israel, but for Palestinians, too. Wong claims that only UNRWA is able to distribute humanitarian assistance to Palestinians living in Gaza, but there are many alternatives. If the Australian government wants to prevent another October 7 massacre and support the dignity of the Palestinian people, it will end its support of UNRWA for good and send money instead to the alphabet soup of agencies capable of replacing it.

Addressing the myriad challenges presented by UNRWA starts by recognizing what UNRWA is and what it is not. UNRWA is not a refugee agency. What began as a political weapon in the Arab world’s campaign to destroy the State of Israel after its founding has evolved into an internationally funded, locally staffed foreign-aid entitlement program that incites violence against Israel, subsidizes US-designated foreign terrorist organizations, denies Palestinians their basic human rights, and blocks the pathways to a sustainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

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