Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf said the country has not “paused or withdrawn” funding for the UN’s relief agency in Gaza despite reports.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) sacked several employees last week over suspicions they may have taken part in the October 7 attack on southern Israel, leading to several countries – including the UK – cutting funding.

Scotland has already paid out £750,000 to the agency last year to aid its efforts in the region.

On Sunday, reports emerged that Scotland had halted funding, mirroring the decision taken by the UK Government.

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Mr Yousaf said on X – formerly Twitter – that the cash was the limit Scotland could provide given its current financial situation.

“To be clear, @scotgov has not paused or withdrawn aid to @UNRWA,” Mr Yousaf wrote.

“We have previously provided as much as we can within our financial constraints.

“We will always seek to do more where we can & urge others to continue to provide aid to the people of Gaza.”

A statement provided to the media at the weekend from the Scottish Government said it had requested updates on the UNRWA investigation and there were “no plans” for further funding.

In a statement on Saturday, the head of UNRWA Philippe Lazzarini said: “It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation.

“The United Nations Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS), the highest investigative authority in the UN system, has already been seized of this very serious matter.”

Last week, UNWRA sacked a number of its staff in Gaza suspected of taking part in the October 7 attack by Hamas and other militants on southern Israel..

The announcement prompted the United States – the agency’s biggest donor – to temporarily halt its funding.

The Herald:

The agency has been the main source of aid for Gaza’s population amid the humanitarian disaster caused by Israel’s offensive against Hamas, which was triggered by the October 7 attack.

UNRWA officials did not comment on the impact that the US halt in funding would have on its operations.

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said it terminated contracts with “several” employees and ordered an investigation after Israel provided information alleging they played a role in the attack.

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The US State Department said there were allegations against 12 employees.

In a statement, Mr Lazzarini called the allegations “shocking” and said any employee “involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution”.

He did not elaborate on what the staffers’ alleged role was in the attacks.

The Herald: Gaza has been under perpetual bombardment Gaza has been under perpetual bombardment (Image: PA)

In the unprecedented surprise attack, Hamas fighters broke through the security fence surrounding Gaza and stormed nearby Israeli communities, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping some 250. Other militants joined the rampage.

More than 1.7 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes by the war – with hundreds of thousands of them crowded into schools and other shelters run by UNRWA.

The US State Department said it was “extremely troubled” by the allegations against the UNRWA staffers and has temporarily paused additional funding for the agency.

The US is the biggest donor to the agency, providing it with 340 million US dollars (£267 million) in 2022 and several hundred million in 2023.

Stephane Dujarric, spokesman of UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, said a “urgent and comprehensive” independent review of the agency would be conducted.

Israeli officials and their allies – including in the US Congress – have frequently alleged that UNRWA allows anti-Israeli incitement to be taught in its hundreds of schools and that some of its staff collaborate with Hamas.