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PARIS: France will provide 30 million euros ($32 million) for the embattled UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA if it commits to neutrality, the foreign ministry said Thursday, without giving a timeline for payments.

“We will make our contributions ensuring that the conditions have been met for UNRWA to complete its missions in a spirit devoid of any call to hatred or violence,” ministry spokesman Christophe Lemoine said.

He gave no timeline for the payments, which usually are made quarter by quarter.

“We have always said UNRWA played a crucial role in Gaza and in the region and that it must imperatively be able to continue its work,” Lemoine said. Last year France provided the agency with 60 million euros in funding.

UNRWA, which coordinates nearly all aid to Gaza, has been in crisis since Israel accused about a dozen of its 13,000 Gaza employees of being involved in the attack by Palestinian Hamas against it on October 7. This led many donors, including the United States, to suspend their funding in January.

France at the time said it had no funding planned for UNRWA for the first quarter of 2024.

Right groups condemned the decision, pointing to a “worsening humanitarian catastrophe” and “looming famine” in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza, where Israeli forces after October 7 launched a devastating military campaign.

The United Nations has since fired the accused employees and launched both an internal probe and an independent investigation into UNWRA.

A preliminary investigation found “critical areas” that need to be addressed despite a “significant number of mechanisms and procedures to ensure compliance with the humanitarian principle of neutrality”, a UN spokesperson said last week.

The final report is due to be presented to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on April 20.

The latest Gaza war began with Hamas’s October 7 attack that resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

The group also took about 250 hostages. Israel says about 130 captives remain in Gaza, including 34 presumed dead.

Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 32,552 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

UNRWA has provided essential aid for Palestinian refugees since 1949 after the first Arab-Israeli conflict, which broke out immediately after Israel’s creation in May 1948.

Gaza counts 1.7 million refugees out of a population of 2.4 million, according to the United Nations.

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