Sweden increases financial support for Palestinians

According to UNWRA, "In times of financial and political uncertainty for Palestine refugees, Sweden’s constant support is critical."

February 24, 2016 08:13
1 minute read.

A Palestinian refugee knocks on the closed gate of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) headquarters with his walking stick. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Sweden has increased its annual contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) to $40.6 million, UNWRA announced in a statement released on Tuesday.

Sweden has provided more than $693 million dollars since 1993 and is considered one of the top donor states to the UN organization.

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“The decision to increase our core funding to UNRWA shows the great importance that Sweden attaches to the Agency and its work for Palestine refugees,” said Sweden's Consul-General Ann-Sofie Nilsson.

"In times of financial and political uncertainty for Palestine refugees, Sweden’s constant support is critical," read the UNWRA statement.

"The Agency’s human development work in health, education, relief and social services for Palestine refugees would not be possible without the support of donors like Sweden."

Last month, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom called for an investigation to determine if Israel was guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the latest wave of violence.

The comments were the latest in a series of statements by Wallstrom that have irked Israeli authorities. Ties between Sweden and Israel nose-dived after Sweden announced its recognition of a Palestinian state shortly after Wallstrom's center-left Social Democrats won general elections in 2014.

She deepened the rift last year by describing Palestinians' plight as a factor leading to Islamist radicalization.

"It is vital that there is a thorough, credible investigation into these deaths in order to clarify and bring about possible accountability," Wallstrom said during a parliamentary debate, according to news agency TT .

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed Wallstrom's comments characterizing her statements as “outrageous, immoral, unjust and just wrong.”

He later added another adjective – “stupid."

“Israel is not above criticism, but it should be held to the same standards that everyone else is being held to,” Netanyahu said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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