UNWRA nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The Palestinian refugee agency will likely be forced to shut by the end of the month after dozens of countries suspended funding


Nobel nominee: An UNWRA worker walks down a street in Jenin in the occupied West Bank (Photo: Zain Jaafar/AFP via Getty Images)

A Norwegian politician has nominated UNWRA for the Nobel Peace Prize after the United Nations agency sacked several staff members for participating in the October 7 attack.

Asmund Aukrust, a Norwegian MP, told the Dagbladet newspaper he nominated the refugee body, “for its long-term work to provide vital support to Palestine and the region in general.”

He added: “This work has been crucial for over 70 years, and even more vital in the last three months.”

Thousands of academics, scientists and members of parliaments around the world can nominate recipients for a Nobel Prize.

Both the United States and Britain suspended funding for UNWRA after staff members were accused of taking part in the October 7 attack.

In a statement published last month, UNWRA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said that Israeli authorities had provided them with information about the alleged involvement of several staff members in the massacre.

“To protect the Agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” he continued.

"Any UNWRA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: “The UK is appalled by allegations that UNRWA staff were involved in the 7 October attack against Israel, a heinous act of terrorism that the UK Government has repeatedly condemned."

An Israeli report shared with foreign governments alleged that six employees of the UN body infiltrated Israel during the Hamas-led invasion.

Four were allegedly involved in kidnapping Israelis, while another worker is said to have provided "logistics support", Sky News reported.

Of approximately 12,000 UNWRA employees in the Gaza strip, around 10 per cent are claimed to be Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad operatives, while 50 per cent are "first degree relatives" with a Hamas operative, the Israeli government also claim.

The Norwegian Refugee Council said it was "outraged" at foreign governments for pausing donations.

It said: "We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job."

Last month, UN chief Antonio Guterres described UNWRA as “the backbone of all humanitarian response in Gaza”.

WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan said: “This is a population that is starving to death, this is a population that is being pushed to the brink.”

UNWRA was founded in 1949 as the only UN body to provide assistance to specifically Palestinian refugees, and has swelled to employ over 30,000 people.

It runs schools, health services and refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighbouring countries.

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