Advertisement

Canada PM Trudeau says no decision yet on funding for UN Palestinian refugee agency

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said Ottawa had not decided whether it would resume funding to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency after Israel alleged some staff had been involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks.

Earlier this week the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and Associated Press cited unnamed government sources as saying Canada would reverse its Jan 26 decision to pause any additional funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

But Trudeau, asked directly whether this was the case, said Ottawa was waiting for the results of an internal United Nations probe into the Israeli allegations that 12 UNRWA staff had been involved in the attacks in which around 1,200 people died, according to Israeli tallies.

"We're not making any announcements today ... we will continue to look at this situation. We will continue to watch the U.N. as it looks into what's happening within this organization," he told reporters in Toronto.

A total of 16 donors, including the United States and Britain, have paused their funding to UNRWA.

"The ongoing humanitarian crisis and disaster in Gaza is heart wrenching for everyone. We know how important it is to get aid into Gaza," said Trudeau, saying people in the enclave faced starvation. Local Gaza health officials say almost 31,000 people have died in Israel's offensive.

Trudeau said no one could remain indifferent to the suffering in Gaza and noted "Canadians have very strong feelings about the conflict".

Police in Toronto, Canada's largest city, say the number of antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes has spiked significantly since the start of the conflict.

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters on Saturday blocked entrances to a Toronto building where Trudeau was due to host a reception for visiting Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. The event was canceled.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)