Justice for Palestine urges the New Zealand government to uphold its commitment to humanitarian aid by continuing its annual funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.
The decision of other countries, notably the US, UK, and Australia, to suspend funding to UNRWA in light of allegations against some of its staff members, will have disastrous humanitarian consequences for the people of Gaza. In contrast, Ireland and Norway have recently affirmed their commitment to continue supporting UNRWA, recognising the essential services the agency provides and the importance of not penalising the entire population for the actions of a few. This balanced approach serves as a valuable example for New Zealand.
Following the allegations by Israel, UNRWA acted swiftly, immediately terminating the contracts of the staff members and launching an investigation. Due process must be followed and the allegations should be thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions taken, however, this should not come at the cost of the entire population of Gaza.
Suspending aid is a disproportionate response that collectively punishes innocent people who rely on these services for their survival.
The situation in Gaza is beyond dire, and UNRWA plays a pivotal role in providing lifesaving assistance to over 2.3 million people, despite considerable risks to its 33,000 staff. The agency’s efforts in healthcare, education, and emergency relief are more critical now than ever. No other organisation matches their logistical capabilities and infrastructure.
As a party to the Genocide Convention and a strong defender of the international rules-based system, New Zealand should be playing an active role in ensuring all measures from the recent International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling are upheld. This includes enabling the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance. Halting funds to UNRWA would be contrary to these efforts.
Justice for Palestine calls on the New Zealand government to prioritise the welfare of the Palestinian people and to not only continue but to increase its vital aid support for UNRWA. Maintaining support for UNRWA is not only a matter of humanitarian obligation but also a reflection of New Zealand’s commitment to international humanitarian principles.