Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government was investigating allegations of involvement of some UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) staff in Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.
It follows Australia's decision to stop funding the relief agency last month, joining a long line of Western countries blocking the international agency's ability to carry out its work on populations and displaced people.
In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Albanese said: “We are looking into this matter with like-minded countries like Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. We want to resolve this issue.” The Prime Minister stressed the need for a comprehensive probe into the allegations to ensure that all funds are earmarked for their intended purpose.
Albanese explained that the investigation aims to verify the allegations before considering refinancing. He stressed the importance of directing aid to its intended purpose and expressed his concern about the humanitarian conditions of individuals in Gaza.
He added: “We don't want people in Gaza to starve, and UNRWA is the only organization that can provide this support there.”
Last week, two Labor members of the New South Wales Parliament, Anthony Dutham and Stephen Lawrence, urged Foreign Affairs Minister Benny Wong to reverse the funding freeze, describing the move as “dubious”. A staunch critic of Israel, Tatum signed a letter in December urging Canberra to reassess its ties.
In response to a call from MPs, NSW Premier Chris Mims suggested the situation in the Middle East should not be prioritized compared to challenges within NSW.
“When we solve all the problems in New South Wales, we can go to the Middle East,” Mims said in an interview with the ABC. “But we're still a long way from that.”