UNWRA Palestine — Fair Play for Children says UK should not with-hold funding and must support ICJ ruling
12th February 2024
Whilst the allegations of Israel conferencing the participation of 12 UNRWA staff in the Hamas atrocities of October last year must and have led to the UN investigating their roles as individuals, it is wholly disproportionate and wrong for the UK to take such extreme action at this stage.
It would be akin to HMG withdrawing support to Police or the NHS for crimes committed by individual staff members in those professions/agencies.
UNRWA is the main UN agency in the West Bank and Gaza, it seems they have around 30,000 employees, 1200 in Gaza. The impact of such withdrawal of support will be catastrophic, the UN Secretary General is urging the 10 countries that have so far paused their aid to change their minds. Fair Play urges the UK Government not only to do so but to impress the eed to do so on other countries that have taken this step.
The SoS knows full well Israel has had long-standing issues with UNRWA, I would suggest the UK Government in the UN presses for a wholly independent inquiry into such allegations,not just re the 12 employees.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which the UK, Israel and all but one of the other 9 have ratified is engaged here:
- Article 2 — against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child’s parents, legal guardians, or family members.
- Article 3: In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
- Article 4: States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.
- Article 6: Right to life
- Article 24: States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
There are other relevant Articles which apply to this situation given the role UNRWA plays in the lives of children.
“The ICJ ordered that Israel must do everything within its power to prevent genocidal acts against Gazans. Such acts include, among others, deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about Gazans’ physical destruction, carried out with the intent to destroy the Gazan people.”
The recent Judgment of the ICJ places the onus on Israel not to allow or enable any acts which come under the definitions of Genocide. It is also the duty of the UK Government to abide by the Judgment in its actions, Fair Play would URGE Lord Cameron to seek urgent clarification of the impact of the Judgment on this decision to pause support.
Given the dire situation in Gaza as regards aid, also the growing crisis in the West Bank, this matter must have the greatest urgency and priority.