Bern finally wants to release 10 million for UNRWA

Bern finally wants to release 10 million for UNRWA
Bern finally wants to release 10 million for UNRWA

The Federal Council has decided. After months of controversy, he finally decided to make a contribution of 10 million francs to the appeal for humanitarian aid launched by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East. East (UNRWA). This is half of what he had initially planned to pay.

The Federal Council decided not to decide anything on April 24. This time, he recognizes the urgency of the situation in Gaza, emphasizing that the UN is warning of an imminent risk of famine in the region. He specifies: the Swiss contribution to UNRWA “is limited to Gaza and aims to provide the most urgent vital needs: food, water, accommodation, primary health care and logistics”.

The Federal Council’s decision is based on the report of the independent review group headed by former French minister Catherine Colonna, he explains. This report aimed to examine the neutrality of UNRWA. He concluded that there was no evidence of a link with “terrorist organizations” like Hamas. It also issues “50 recommendations to further strengthen the neutrality of the organization,” notes Berne.

As a reminder, the UN agency has been in turmoil since Israel’s accusations that it provided direct support to Hamas during the October 7 attacks. Several countries, including Switzerland, then suspended their contribution. But many have since resumed payments.

The Swiss contribution will however be submitted for consultation to the foreign policy committees, as decided by Parliament in December 2023. That of the National recently recommended releasing part of the 20 million planned. While asking that Berne no longer pays UNRWA in the medium term.

“Incomprehensible” decision, for the PS

This partial payment is strongly criticized by the PS. “Given the catastrophic situation in Gaza, it is completely incomprehensible that only part of the sum is paid to UNRWA. There is no other organization capable of quickly providing the necessary aid at this time,” underlines PS co-president Cédric Wermuth. The party also criticizes the fact that the Federal Council is once again postponing the payment, referring to consultations of the two foreign policy committees of Parliament. “They have already been consulted in detail on the financing of UNRWA,” he recalls. The PS therefore asks Ignazio Cassis to immediately pay the entire amount provided to the UN agency.

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