April 18, 2024

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Humanitarian situation in Gaza | Towards restoring aid to UNRWA

Humanitarian situation in Gaza |  Towards restoring aid to UNRWA

(Ottawa) Canada is reportedly on the verge of announcing a funding overhaul for UNRWA, which, like other countries, stopped it a month ago.

International Development Minister Ahmed Hussein was scheduled to give an “update on Canada's humanitarian funding in Gaza” on Wednesday with Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Ray, but the announcement was canceled.

In an email, the minister's spokeswoman, Olivia Batten, cited “logistical reasons” to justify canceling the event approximately 75 minutes after the scheduled time. Don't want to say when the announcement will come.

CBC Network reported on the strength of an anonymous government source that the minister would announce the resumption of payments to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA).

Canada and several other countries cut funding to the organization in late January after Israel accused 12 of its employees of participating in a Hamas attack last October. According to the CBC, an initial United Nations report consulted by Canadian representatives will reassure them.

In a sign of momentum, Norway's Foreign Minister Espan Barth Ede told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday that several countries were preparing to reopen the floodgates.

“I think there's a lot of skepticism in these suspended countries,” he said in an interview, adding that there is some kind of recognition that “the entire Palestinian community cannot be punished.”

“We did not lose essential aid to 2 million people because of accusations that, we agree, are very serious,” admits France-Isabelle Langlois, director of Amnesty International's French-speaking Canadian division, recalling that UNRWA quickly fired dozens of people. target.

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In fact, Canadian funding for UNRWA has not been halted – the 25 million scheduled for the following April was at stake.

But France-Isabelle Langlois believes that given the vital importance of the organization in the enclave, it would be ill-advised for Canada to continue freezing its funding. “Before October 7, 500 trucks arrived with food, medicine, water and petrol. We need it on a daily basis,” he says.

The Conservative Party cut aid to UNRWA under Stephen Harper in 2010, succeeding the Liberals. “So, Justin Trudeau “de-funded” UNRWA in March by prepaying your taxes, then restarted its funding in April,” joked Vice President Melissa Landsman on X.

Abandoning help?

A week ago, Minister Hussain's office confirmed that he was working on a plan to parachute humanitarian aid into the skies over the Gaza Strip.

The position of the idea, which has been criticized by former Liberal foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy, was published in an open letter. The Globe and Mail.

Countries including the United States and France have chosen to provide aid to the starving Gaza Strip.

France-Isabelle Langlois notes that the best way to reach people is to ship overland, which is less chaotic.

“There, we are parachuting because Israel does not want to open the access gates. We need to open them up and ensure that humanitarian aid is organised,” he insists.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Jolie has made this request several times.

The issue will surely come up again these days as part of his work in the region where he is.

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Stops in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the West Bank are on the minister's schedule as his trip lasts until March 13.