UNRWA funding | “The priority must be the protection of civilians” in Gaza, says Justin Trudeau

(Ottawa) Although Canada has not yet decided whether or not it will pay its usual contribution to UNRWA, the United Nations humanitarian organization in Gaza, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes that Canada must be concerned in “priority” of Palestinian civilians suffering in the territory where Israel is carrying out a military operation.

“That’s why we were there and we will continue to try to be there to support people. Yes, there are serious allegations that the United Nations is following up on, but the priority must be the protection of civilians,” he said Thursday during a press briefing in Toronto.

The humanitarian crisis facing Gaza residents is “unimaginable,” said the prime minister, who believes that “everything we can” must be done to help innocent civilians “caught in this horrible situation.” He insisted that Canada must help “more” in Gaza.

A famine awaits this territory now in ruins where more than 30,000 people have been killed, according to local authorities, since Israel carried out a military operation there in response to an attack by Hamas militants where 1,200 people died and 250 were taken hostage.

Talks continue, including with other countries that also suspended their funding in January to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, known as the UNRWA, a senior government source said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Sixteen countries, including a dozen of the organization’s top 15 donors, suspended payments after Israel alleged that a dozen workers from the aid organization took part in the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7.

Canada does not intend to make a decision until “a transparent and complete investigation” is completed, International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen said last week.

But on Wednesday, Mr. Hussen canceled at the last minute a press conference aimed at taking stock of the situation. His team refused to confirm or deny a CBC News report from the day before that he was about to announce that UNRWA funding would flow as planned.

UNRWA is the main provider of social and humanitarian assistance in the territory, particularly in health care and education. It depends almost exclusively on donations from UN member countries.

Canada has not missed any payments since the funding pause was announced. His payment of 25 million for this year is not due until April.

source site-63