In the media

Joint Statement on Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

Ministerial Correspondence, 29 February 2024
To Senator the Hon. Penny Wong, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Dear Senator Wong,

It is now nearly one month since the government announced a temporary pause in Australia’s funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The suspension followed an allegation from the government of Israel that 12 UNWRA employees in Gaza had been involved in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attacks.

These allegations are extremely concerning and serious. It is critical that Australian aid does not ever fund or indirectly support terrorists, and that those responsible for the horrific attacks on October 7 are brought to justice.

However, we also recognise the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and the central role that UNRWA plays in providing relief to hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians. We understand that no other aid provider in Gaza has the scale and capacity to replace UNRWA’s efforts. We acknowledge the increase in aid that the Australian government has provided to address these needs since it came to office.

We have spoken with Thomas White, UNRWA’s on the ground Director of Humanitarian Affairs, about what steps have been taken in relation to these concerns. Mr White is an Australian who has worked in this position for more than two years, with decades of experience in aid and conflict zones, including for Fred Hollows Foundation, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Save the Children.

Mr White told us that UNRWA acted by immediately dismissing those employees and deploying three experienced internal investigators from its New York headquarters to conduct detailed inquiries. Former French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna has also been appointed to lead a review of whether the agency is doing everything in its power to ensure its own neutrality. Mr White says that UNRWA has sought to engage with the Israeli government on these matters. He shared that UNRWA is unclear what more it can do for funding to be restored before the situation in Gaza becomes even more dire.

Amid emerging evidence of malnutrition, it is our clear understanding that unless international partner funding to UNRWA is restored by the end of March, UNRWA will not be able to pay its workers and its humanitarian operations in Gaza will collapse. We recognise the government needs to balance these two legitimate concerns – ensuring our aid does not support terrorism, while supporting Palestinian civilians in a dire humanitarian situation.

However, given the scale of the current humanitarian requirements, we believe that it is critical that either an alternative pathway is found to deliver urgent aid, or that the government provides immediate clear direction as to what actions UNRWA can feasibly take in order that funding can be restored before we bear witness to a humanitarian collapse in Gaza.

Zoe Daniel (Member for Goldstein)
Helen Haines (Member for Indi)
Sophie Scamps (Member for Mackellar)
Zali Steggall (Member for Warringah)
Andrew Wilkie (Member for Clark)
Kate Chaney (Member for Curtin)
Monique Ryan (Member for Kooyong)
Allegra Spender (Member for Wentworth)
Kylea Tink (Member for North Sydney)

Previous statements on Gaza

Joint statement on integrity and autonomy of ICC

Ministerial Correspondence, 5 June 2024

Kylea has signed a joint statement urging the Australian Government to publicly support the ICC's work and enable independent judicial processes to operate free from political interference and threat of punishment.

Find out more

Statement on motion to recognise the state of Palestine

Media release, 29 May 2024

Kylea has abstained from voting on a motion in the House of Representatives that she believes would not meaningfully assist the people of Gaza or Israel, nor support social cohesion in Australia when it is most needed.

Find out more

Joint Statement on Humanitarian Assistance in Gaza

Ministerial Correspondence, 29 February 2024

Kylea has signed a joint statement calling for the Australian Government to urgently find a way forward to deliver humanitarian aid to UNWRA in Gaza.

Find out more

Question to PM about funding for UNWRA in Gaza

House of Representatives, 28 February 2024

Social Cohesion

House of Representatives, 16 November 2023

Catastrophic Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza - call for urgent ceasefire

Ministerial Correspondence, 21 November 2023

Kylea has written to Foreign Minister Penny Wong urging the Australian Government to call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

Find out more

Statement on Middle East conflict & Parliamentary Motion

Media release, 18 October 2023

Statement on Middle East conflict & Parliamentary Motion.

Find out more

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