ICJP

International aid watchdog report on UK Government aid to Gaza policy – FCDO must restore aid funding and scrutinise international law violations 

London 24th March 2024 – The international aid watchdog for the UK government has released a new report on “UK humanitarian aid to Gaza.” The report analyses the severity of the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the UK government’s response and responsibility towards Gaza. The report outlined a series of ‘further steps’, revealing government shortcomings on the resumption of aid funding for UNRWA and its assessments on Israeli violations of international law. 

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) is a non-departmental public body that operates independently to the government and reports to parliament through the House of Commons International Development Committee (IDC) or its ICAI Sub-Committee. 

The IDC, whose role is to scrutinise the expenditure and policy of the Government’s Department for International Development, produced a report at the end of February 2024, having independently investigated the scale of catastrophe in Gaza and subsequently made recommendations to the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO). The FCDO responded in May 2024, and despite accepting most of the recommendations outlined in the IDC report, this was not reflected in the policy and stance of the department. Foreign Secretary David Cameron approved arms sales to Israel mere days after three British aid workers were targeted and killed in Gaza by Israel. 

Despite claiming an emphasis and dedication to the application of international law, this Government continues to ignore warnings from UN officials, its own lawyers, and other foreign powers of Israel’s violation of international law. After months of pressure, the government has finally agreed to release details of a legal assessment that UK arms sales are not at risk of breaching international human law, a position that is at odds with the findings of many human rights lawyers amongst civil society groups.  

 In March, ICJP supported legal action taken by Bindman’s LLP seeking the restoration of funding to UNRWA; responsible for the delivery of most aid entering Gaza and is a lifeline to Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). The UK defunded UNRWA earlier this year based on unsubstantiated claims made against it by Israel. Unlike most European countries, who have resumed their funding of UNRWA, the UK Government refuses to do the same. 

ICAI set six lines of further enquiry for the IDC or other scrutiny bodies to investigate. This includes the UK’s assessment of whether Israel has violated international humanitarian law and the consequences of such assessment; the Government’s plans for the resumption of funding to UNRWA given its key role in providing aid; what commitment the UK might make in response to the long term harms suffered by the population of Gaza; the action taken by the UK to ensure that adequate monitoring arrangements are implement to allow for journalism and ‘other independent scrutiny’; and the FCDO’s plan for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza. 

The Government has time and time failed to act promptly and effectively to prevent and counteract atrocities committed in Gaza. It failed the British World Central Kitchen (WCK) aid workers who were killed with weapons containing British components, it failed the people of Gaza through its defunding of the UNRWA and continues to fail and ignore international law and its obligations as a State Party to the Genocide Convention.  

In its capacity as an independent non-partisan public body, the ICAI’s report and suggestions must be utilised to hold this Government accountable and to question the action, or lack of, it has taken to fulfil the recommendations set out by the IDC and the ICAI reports respectively.  

ENDS 

Notes to Editors: 

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. 
  1. Press release for UNRWA legal challenge can be found here. 
  1. News coverage of the government publishing its legal advice on arms sales can be found here
  1. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact ICJP news desk at [email protected]