This picture taken during a media tour organised by the Israeli army on February 8, 2024, shows Israeli soldiers inside a compound of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) in the Gaza Strip, amid ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

In a powerful plea for compassion and humanity, more than a hundred Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have rallied together, advocating for the uninterrupted financial support of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). This appeal, underscored by the critical situation in Gaza, emphasizes the dire consequences that funding cuts would have on innocent civilians trapped in the throes of conflict.

Finnish MEP Alviina Alametsä, representing the Greens, has been a prominent signatory of a collective letter addressed to key figures within the European Union, including the presidents of the European Commission, the European Council, and the European Parliament. The letter underscores the moral indefensibility of halting funding to UNRWA, an organization that serves as a lifeline to over two million people in Gaza and the Palestinian territories.

The cause for concern stems from allegations against 12 UNRWA employees, suspected of involvement in planning an attack for Hamas, which has prompted some EU countries to reconsider their financial contributions. Alametsä ardently points out the unjust nature of collectively punishing over two million individuals for the actions of a few, especially given UNRWA's workforce of 30,000 people and its critical role in providing comprehensive aid.

The decision by several EU countries to suspend funding has sparked a widespread debate across Europe, including Finland, where the Parliament's Human Rights Network has submitted a petition with 41 members urging the Finnish government to continue its financial support. Alametsä highlights the stance of Norway and Denmark, Nordic countries that have committed to maintaining their funding, and calls for Finland and other EU nations to follow suit.

Alametsä's closing appeal emphasizes the legal and moral obligations of international and European bodies to ensure humanitarian aid reaches Gaza. She warns of the shared responsibility EU states bear for any resulting deaths or suffering should civilians be left without support, urging Finland and its EU counterparts to persevere in their funding of UNRWA.

This collective stance by MEPs signals a crucial moment of solidarity and a test of the European Union's commitment to humanitarian principles in one of the most tumultuous regions of the world.