NZ 'must call out' countries cutting Gaza aid

The New Zealand government should support former Prime Minister Helen Clark in calling out countries for prematurely axing funding to the United Nations' aid agency in Gaza, Prof Robert Patman says.

Helen Clark. Photo: ODT files
Helen Clark. Photo: ODT files
Ms Clark, a former head of the UN’s development agency, has labelled ‘‘outrageous’’ the move by more than a dozen countries to cut funding to Gaza aid agency UNRWA following allegations a dozen of its 13,000 employees were members of Hamas.

Those who have put their funding on hold include the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and Australia.

University of Otago geopolitical commentator Prof Patman said New Zealand’s government, which today said it would also review aid funding, should instead follow Ms Clark’s lead in calling for the resumption of funding to the UNRWA.

‘‘New Zealand’s government needs to point out to the likes of the United States, Germany and the UK... that according to the US government this [aid] organisation has performed heroically in the most difficult circumstances,’’ Prof Patman said.

Palestinians carry containers of drinkable water collected from mobile barrels. UNRWA has been...
Palestinians carry containers of drinkable water collected from mobile barrels. UNRWA has been the main supplier of food, water and shelter to civilians in Gaza during the conflict. Photo: Getty Images
The last thing they and the people of Gaza needed was for aid funding to be cut ‘‘before we know the outcome of an investigation in to the allegations made by Israel’’.

On this episode of Global Insight, Prof Patman discusses the timing of the aid agency allegations relative to the UN court ruling on claims of genocide in Gaza; considers possible factors causing the high number of big donor countries to pull their funding of UNRWA; and outlines the likely crippling effect of ‘‘potentially short-sighted’’ moves that could stop desperately needed aid getting to people in Gaza.

On October 7 last year Gaza-based Hamas fighters killed 1200 Israelis and took 240 hostages.

To date, more than 26,000 Palestinians in Gaza have died as a result of Israel’s ongoing retaliatory offensive.