Finland continues funding UNRWA— funds directed to prevention of misconduct

Finland’s support for the UNRWA is EUR 5 million annually. Ten per cent of the support will be directed for strengthening the organisation's oversight activities.

Finland suspended its annual five million euro payment to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in January due to the alleged links to the Hamas terrorist group. In February, Finland allocated corresponding support of EUR 5 million through International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Programme (WFP). At the end of last year, Finland also granted EUR 4 million for relieving the suffering of civilians in Gaza.

Finland has received information on the two different UN investigations concerning UNRWA. In addition, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has commissioned a separate assessment, which was recently completed. The information received indicates that there are clear shortcomings in the UNRWA’s risk management, which are related for example to the use of funds and facilities.

The allegations concerning support for terrorism are serious. The findings of the assessments have been discussed with the UNRWA, but a final report on the alleged links to Hamas terrorism has yet to be produced.

UNRWA has given Finland a bilateral assurance that misconduct will be tackled with enhanced effectiveness. It has provided similar assurances to the European Commission and Sweden, among others.

UNRWA’s assurance to improve risk management by preventing and closely overseeing misconduct gives us at this point the necessary guarantees that risks will be managed and we can continue our support. Therefore, the payment of this year’s funding to the UNRWA will proceed,” says Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ville Tavio.

“We will allocate ten per cent of the funds, EUR 500,000, to risk management. This money is used to monitor the implementation of guidelines on misconduct. In future, we will also require annual bilateral consulatations with Finland on the progress of stepping up risk management,” Minister Tavio says.

Finland will continue to monitor closely the review processes related to UNRWA in cooperation with other countries.

“I am particularly looking forward to the final report of the UN Office for Internal Oversight Services (OIOS). It is of crucial importance for Finland to ensure that our funds will not support terrorism. However, the preparation of the report will take time, and UNRWA cannot in the short term be replaced in Gaza by other humanitarian agencies,” Minister Tavio says.

UNRWA is a UN humanitarian agency that provides basic public services, such as education, healthcare and social services, to Palestine refugees. UNRWA operates in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, as well as in Gaza and the West Bank.




  • Lauratuulia Lehtinen, Director, Unit for Humanitarian Assistance and Policy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 46 921 2030
  • Tuomas Tähti, Special Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, tel. +358 295 350 199