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UN Commissioner Hopes for Switzerland’s Continued Funding of UNRWA

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Wednesday voiced hope for continuation of Swiss support to UNRWA amid ongoing discussions to cut assistance.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the Global Refugee Forum, Grandi said: “I hope that Switzerland continues to fund UNRWA.”

He urged all countries, as well as donors, to support the UN agency for Palestinian refugees not only for the emergency response but “going forward” as the agency plays an “important” role for “not only the Palestinians but the whole region.”

Regarding the refugee settlement program, he said: “I have certainly made that pitch myself saying it is important that the refugee resettlement program in Switzerland continues. And that contributions to humanitarian organizations, including UNRWA, including UNHCR by the way, continue as well.”

He warned that the world is cutting fund from the humanitarian agencies in a time that they need the most, adding that UNHCR itself cut 900 positions, 5% of its stuff, worldwide due to funding shortages.

On Tuesday, the lower house of the Swiss parliament voted to cancel funding for UNRWA, a decision made due to persistent accusations that the organization glorifies terrorism against Israel in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack by Palestinian group Hamas.

Philippe Lazzarini, the chief of UNRWA, expressed disappointment with the decision and voiced hope that the Swiss Senate would overrule it.

Responding to a question on possible displacement of Gazans in Egypt due to Israeli military operations in the south, the high commissioner said such a move would “very worrying” and it would cause regional problems as well as hurt the chance of possible solution to the current conflict with Palestine.

Israel has bombarded the Gaza Strip for over two months, killing more than 18,500 Palestinians besides leaving a trail of destruction.

As many as 134 UNRWA staffers have also been killed since the beginning of hostilities.

Source: AA