Norway ‘reasonably optimistic’ funding to UNRWA can get back on track

OSLO – Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide told Reuters on Thursday he was “reasonably optimistic” some countries that had paused funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) would resume payments.

UNRWA on Thursday said its entire operations in the Middle East, not only in Gaza, will most likely be forced to shut down by the end of February if its funding remains suspended.

“I am reasonably optimistic that we will get funding back on track,” Barth Eide said in an interview.

He said “many countries” were realising that the current situation could not last very long. He declined to name specific countries.

“They’re looking for a way out. And maybe if now UNRWA comes up quickly with a good response, which is accepted as serious, they will then happily restart,” said the minister.

“Because I think we hear from several governments, and also governments, who have been vocal publicly about the need to suspend, that they understand the very, very serious consequences.”

The Nordic country, a top donor to UNRWA, said on Wednesday it was urging countries that have paused funding to the agency to consider the consequences of their actions on the population in Gaza.

Oslo is maintaining its funding following accusations that some agency staff took part in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants, in contrast to several other countries.

Asked whether he was speaking with his counterpart in Sweden, a top UNRWA donor that paused funding and is a close Norway ally, he said: “I’ll be very careful about mentioning individuals. But of course, we talk to our close friends.” REUTERS

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