POLITICS

A government official says Canada will restore funding to embattled UN agency in Gaza

Mar 6, 2024, 5:40 AM

TORONTO (AP) — Canada will restore funding to the United Nations relief agency for Palestinians, a government official tells The Associated Press, weeks after the agency lost hundreds of millions of dollars in support following Israeli allegations against some of its staffers in Gaza.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first reported that Canada will restore funding and that International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen would announce the decision Wednesday. But the government official told the AP the announcement has been delayed, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to comment on the matter.

Canada’s foreign minister is currently in the Middle East and plans to visit Israel.

The Israel-Hamas war has driven 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes, and U.N. officials say a quarter of the population is starving as access to the enclave is restricted. The U.N. agency known as UNRWA is the main supplier of food, water and shelter there, but it is on the brink of financial collapse.

Israel accused 12 of its employees of participating in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel that killed 1,200 people and left about 250 others held hostage in Gaza. In response, more than a dozen countries including Canada suspended funding to UNRWA worth about $450 million, almost half its budget for the year.

UNRWA, which employs roughly 13,000 people in Gaza, is the biggest aid provider in the enclave.

Two U.N. investigations into Israel’s allegations were already underway when the European Union said Friday it will give 50 million euros ($54 million) to UNRWA after the agency agreed to allow EU-appointed experts to audit the way it screens staff to identify extremists.

Israel now alleges that 450 UNRWA employees were members of militant groups in Gaza, though it has provided no evidence.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said Monday that he has “never been informed” or received any evidence of Israel’s claims. Every year, he said, UNRWA provides Israel and the Palestinian Authority with a list of its staff, “and I never have received the slightest concern about the staff that we have been employing.”

The only allegation communicated to him verbally was about the 12 UNRWA staffers alleged to have participated in the Oct. 7 attack, he said, and they appeared so serious that they were fired.

UNRWA in a statement has accused Israel of detaining several of its staffers and forcing them, using torture and ill treatment, into giving false confessions about the links between the agency, Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack.

The attack sparked an Israeli invasion that Gaza’s Health Ministry says has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians.

Politics

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Senate in Massachusetts passes bill curtailing use of plastics including bags, straws

BOSTON (AP) — The state Senate in Massachusetts has passed a wide-ranging bill curtailing the use of plastics, including barring the purchase of single-use plastic bottles by state agencies. The bill, approved Thursday, also bans carry-out plastic bags at retailers statewide and require stores to charge 10 cents for recycled paper bags. It also requires […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

A U.S. envoy visits Hanoi days after Putin, saying US-Vietnam trust is at ‘all-time high’

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A senior U.S. diplomat held talks in Vietnam on Saturday and said that the trust between the two countries was at an “all-time high,” just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Hanoi. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink insisted that his […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Trump endorses Ten Commandments in schools, implores evangelical Christians to vote in November

WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump told a group of evangelicals they “cannot afford to sit on the sidelines” of the 2024 election, imploring them at one point to “go and vote, Christians, please!” Trump also endorsed displaying the Ten Commandments in schools and elsewhere while speaking to a group of politically influential evangelical Christians in […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

US will ‘gradually’ resume avocado inspections in conflictive Mexican state, ambassador says

MEXICO CITY (AP) — U.S. government inspections of avocados and mangoes in the Mexican state of Michoacan will “gradually” resume, U.S. Ambassador Ken Salazar announced Friday, a week after they were suspended over an assault on inspectors. The U.S. Agriculture Department inspectors “will gradually begin to return to the packing plants following recent aggression against […]

2 days ago

Associated Press

Ex-CEO of Nevada-based health care company Ontrak convicted of $12.5 million insider trading scheme

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The former CEO and chairman of Ontrak, a publicly traded health care company based in Nevada, was found guilty Friday of a multimillion-dollar insider trading scheme. A federal jury in Los Angeles convicted Terren Scott Peizer, a resident of Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California, of one count of securities fraud […]

2 days ago

A government official says Canada will restore funding to embattled UN agency in Gaza