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Portugal pledges 10 million euros in aid to UNRWA

Displaced Palestinians shelter at an UNRWA school in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal said on Thursday it would give 10 million euros ($10.89 million) to the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA as a one-off contribution intended to provide food, medicine, and humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

The amount was announced by acting Cabinet Affairs Minister Mariana Vieira da Silva following a cabinet meeting. A Foreign Ministry official described the amount as new additional aid that had not been in the state budget for 2024.

The United States, UNRWA's biggest donor, and several other countries have paused their funding to the agency since January after Israel accused 12 of the agency's 13,000 employees in Gaza of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.

Portugal, which did not pause its funding, contributed four million euros directly to UNRWA in 2023, and in February this year it announced one million euros in extra aid to the agency.

Caretaker Prime Minister Antonio Costa said earlier he would inform the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a fellow Portuguese who has repeatedly called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, of the 10 million euro contribution.

"We are all unanimous in condemning the barbaric attack that took place on Oct. 7 against Israel, but we must all also be unanimous in condemning the unacceptable way in which Israel is currently exercising its right to defence," Costa told reporters ahead of a European Council meeting in Brussels.

($1 = 0.9180 euros)

(Reporting by Patrícia Vicente Rua; Editing by Andrei Khalip, William Maclean)