what withholding funds to unrwa means for gaza

After 12 employees of the U.N. agency were accused of participating in the Oct. 7 attack against Israel, some donor countries have suspended funding. But more than a million people in Gaza depend on the agency for aid.

The main United Nations agency that provides food and services to Palestinians in the beleaguered Gaza Strip warned this week that it could soon run out of money after at least a dozen countries temporarily suspended funding amid accusations that some agency employees participated in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.

The agency, known as UNWRA, receives hundreds of millions of dollars annually to aid Palestinians in Gaza, and it provides needed services in which the Hamas government has shown little interest, including operating schools and maintaining health clinics. Since the start of the war, UNRWA has coordinated the distribution of relief to Gazans suffering from displacement, hunger and illness.

“Withdrawing funds from UNRWA is perilous and would result in the collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza,” U.N. officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

Here’s a closer look at how the agency, formally the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, spends its funds.

UNRWA operates across the Middle East, providing aid and services to Palestinian refugees, but it employs the most people in Gaza, where 1.7 million refugees resided before the war.

The bulk of UNRWA’s regular budget for Gaza goes to pay the salaries of 13,000 employees, including teachers, health care specialists, engineers and sanitation workers. The bill for salaries and operational expenses comes out to $30 million monthly, according to Juliette Touma, the director of communications for the agency.

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