ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 140

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Norway will give $26 million to UNRWA this year, more could come — foreign ministry

Men sweep water away from the entrance of a school run by UNRWA that is sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 8, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Men sweep water away from the entrance of a school run by UNRWA that is sheltering displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 8, 2024, amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian terror group Hamas. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Norway is giving 275 million crowns ($26 million) this year to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and could increase that sum if needed, it says, days after the agency warned it could cease all activity by the end of the month.

A string of countries including the United States, Germany and Britain paused their funding to the aid agency after accusations by Israel last month that some UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas’s October 7 attacks in southern Israel.

Norway, a top donor to UNRWA, is maintaining its funding.

UNRWA said on February 1 that it could be forced to shut down its operations in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, by the end of February if its funding remains suspended.

Oslo said on Wednesday it was transferring 275 million crowns to UNRWA. Today, the ministry of foreign affairs says that money covered Norway’s regular, annual contribution to UNRWA, but that there could be additional payments.

“Due to the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, there may be additional funds from Norway to UNRWA throughout the year,” says a foreign ministry spokesperson.

By comparison, Norway gave UNRWA 470.5 million crowns ($44.6 million) last year, she said. “This includes additional funding after the war started in October,” she says.

“There is a shortage of all essential items and people are facing daily threats to their lives and safety. UNRWA is the backbone of humanitarian efforts in Gaza,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in a statement on Wednesday.

Oslo said on January 31 it was urging countries that have paused funding to consider the wider consequences of their actions on the population in Gaza, given that UNRWA is the main organization supplying aid to Palestinians.

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