by AJNews staff
(AJNews) – On January 30, Ottawa announced that it will be providing an additional $40 million in funding for humanitarian assistance to address urgent needs stemming from the ongoing crisis in the Gaza Strip. This funding “will help Canada’s partners to provide food, water, emergency medical assistance, protection services and other life-saving assistance” to Gazans.
Meanwhile on January 26, Canada joined the United States, the European Union, the UK, Japan, Australia and others in immediately “pausing” funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). This was in response to a UN investigation into allegations that UNRWA employees participated in the heinous October 7 Hamas attacks on southern Israel where 1200 people, mostly civilians, were massacred and 240 people including women, children and the elderly were kidnapped. It has also been alleged that 10% of UNRWA workers are members of Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.
Canada’s Minister of International Development Ahmed Hussen stated in a post on X that Ottawa “unequivocally condemns the October 7th attack on Israel” and that he is “deeply troubled by the allegations relating to some UNRWA employees.”
“I have instructed Global Affairs Canada to pause all additional funding to UNRWA pending the outcome of the investigation,” he wrote.
Hussen also stated that Canada welcomes the UN investigation and that funds would be sent via “other partners.”
“As UNRWA undertakes this investigation, Canada will not reduce its support to the people of Gaza. Canada will continue to work with other partners to provide life-saving assistance to civilians in Gaza,” reads the post.
The announced funds are being allocated as follows:
- World Food Programme: $16 million
- UNICEF: $6 million
- United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA): $5 million
- World Health Organization: $3 million
- International Committee of the Red Cross: $3 million
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA): $2 million
An additional $5 million will be allocated toward experienced Canadian non-governmental organization partners.
“Following Canada’s recent announcement to temporarily pause additional funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Canada will continue to work with the agency and other donors to support the investigation into the serious and deeply concerning allegations, while maintaining our commitment to helping the most vulnerable Palestinian civilians in the region,” the announcement read.
“We urge all parties to actively facilitate the swift and unobstructed passage of essential humanitarian relief to civilians in need as part of our collective responsibility to uphold the principles of humanity, dignity and protection for all.”
“Since the very beginning of the crisis, our position has always been, and continues to be, centered on the firm belief that more assistance is needed, not less,” stated Minister Hussen. “In line with this commitment, we are stepping up with additional emergency funding so that our trusted and experienced humanitarian partners can continue to ensure this funding reaches the most vulnerable in their time of need.”
The January 30 announcement concluded that “Canada remains committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, including the creation of a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel.”
Earlier in the week, in response to the International Court of Justice rejecting a call for an immediate ceasefire, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly issued the following statement:
“Canada will continue to support Israel’s right to exist and defend itself, in accordance with international law. Nothing can justify Hamas’ brutal attacks on October 7, including the appalling loss of life, and the heinous acts of violence perpetrated in those attacks, including sexual violence.
“Canada remains deeply concerned about the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the ongoing and serious impacts on Palestinian civilians. Canada continues to support urgent international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire. This cannot be one-sided. Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields, and lay down its arms.
“Parties to any conflict must protect civilians and respect international law. They are obligated to allow and facilitate the rapid and unimpeded access of essential humanitarian relief for civilians. Humanitarian access must urgently be increased and sustained in Gaza.”
The United States is the single largest donor to UNRWA providing a third of its budget — $344 million of $1.17 billion in 2022 — Canada provided $23.7 million USD that same year. In October 2023, Canada announced it would be providing $60 million CAN in funding for humanitarian assistance to address acute needs of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and neighbouring areas, while ensuring that none of the money goes into the hands of Hamas.
More than 26,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched counterstrikes following the Oct. 7 Hamas’ massacre, according to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled health ministry. Israel does not dispute those numbers, and says about a third are combatants.