Germany has announced it will halt new aid commitments for long-term UNRWA development projects in Gaza.
This comes amid confusion about Germany’s exact position vis-a-vis funding UNRWA in the wake of the October 7th massacre by Hamas and evidence that UNRWA teachers celebrated the attack and propagated hate.
On November 28, reports spread on X (Twitter) that Germany was cutting aid from UNRWA with many interpreting this as a halting of aid altogether. This prompted the German Foreign Ministry to reply on X that “This is not true. UNRWA plays an essential and important role in delivering assistance to Palestinians.”
While it is correct that Germany is not cutting aid from UNRWA as a whole, through its own official communications Germany has since confirmed that there will be a “readjustment” of aid away from “longer-term development policy measures via UNRWA in the Gaza Strip” into other agencies such as the UNDP and the German Red Cross.
On November 7th, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) announced that it “is currently reviewing its involvement in the Palestinian territories,” and that “as long as the review has not been completed, no new contractual obligations will be entered into and, in principle, no new payments will be made.” Germany is UNRWA’s second-largest donor. In 2022, it contributed over 190 million euros.
On the same day, the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze met with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini in Amman and vouched to “not abandon the agency” and announced a “91 million euro package of support, including planned commitments and new funding.”
The official BMZ website explains that “as a constitutional state, we fulfill existing contractual obligations, such as paying invoices for work carried out in projects that have already begun.” They also confirmed that they released 71 million euros of previously planned commitments and 20 million euros of new funding to UNRWA in Jordan and the Gaza Strip “intended to finance measures that maintain basic services” given the acute needs.
On November 23rd the BMZ provided an update on the review stating that as a “partial result of the review, the BMZ decided on November 22, 2023, that UNRWA can use the funds made available by the BMZ in all of its areas of operation, i.e. in Jordan, in the West Bank as well as in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon and, in isolated cases, Syria.”
However, the statement includes the caveat that “due to the current situation, longer-term development policy measures via UNRWA in the Gaza Strip are excluded.”
The BMZ website goes on to say that “transitional aid projects should be continued and readjusted” to other agencies such as the UNDP, the German Red Cross, the Palestinian Red Crescent Movement, and the WFP. It is also important to note that the review is not yet completed.