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UK joins growing list of countries pausing aid to UN agency

The United Kingdom announced Friday that it would be joining a growling list of countries that will be pausing funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

The pause in aid to the organization responsible for Palestinian refugees comes after allegations surfaced that 12 members of its staff were involved in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks against Israel.

The U.K. joins the United States, Australia, Canada, Finland, Italy and Israel in pausing funding for the agency.

A spokesperson for the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said the country is appalled by the allegations that staff were involved in the surprise attack where Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 200 hostages.

“The UK is temporarily pausing any future funding of UNRWA whilst we review these concerning allegations,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “We remain committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza who desperately need it.”

The agency provides critical aid and services to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. It’s the leading agency among humanitarian groups that are looking to bring aid to Palestinians. Since Israel launched its counteroffensive, more than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.

The U.S. said it is “extremely troubled” by the allegations that 12 staff members may have been “involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.” The State Department said it has paused additional funding for the organization while it reviews the allegations and “the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said the body was launching an investigation into staff after Israeli authorities provided them with information that employees participated in the initial attack. Any employee will be held accountable “including through criminal prosecution,” Lazzarini said.

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