Claim: The Scottish Government paused aid payments to a key UN agency supporting people in Gaza after accusations some of its staff were linked with Hamas, as reported by the BBC.

Has the Scottish Government paused aid payments?

To date, the Scottish Government says it has sent £750,000 to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports humanitarian efforts in Gaza, since the organisation issued a flash appeal on October 10.

The total was reached after an additional £250,000 was pledged.

This was announced on November 2 in a press release, which did not mention that was the limit of what the Scottish Government would send.

On Saturday night, the BBC reported the Scottish Government had – like the UK Government and US, Australia, Italy and Canada – paused its support for UNRWA after the organisation sacked an unspecified number of employees alleged to have links with Hamas.

But the Scottish Government has since denied this, saying the £750,000 previously announced was the limit of what it could send. 

Why the BBC report the payments had been paused?

The Scottish Government issued a statement on Saturday evening in response to comment requests from news outlets (including The National) seeking reaction to the UK Government’s earlier announcement it would stop funding UNRWA in light of the allegations.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by allegations that several UNRWA staff were involved in the abhorrent Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7.

READ MORE: Scottish Government has NOT paused funding to UNRWA, clarifies Humza Yousaf

“We note the statement by the UNRWA commissioner general, of the immediate action already taken by UNRWA to dismiss these employees and to launch a full investigation.

“Also the assurance by UNRWA that any UNRWA employee who was involved in acts of terror will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.

“Given our recent funding of UNRWA, we have separately been in direct touch with them today and have requested further updates on the investigation. We have no plans to provide further support to UNRWA at this stage.

“These allegations are particularly concerning at a time when the international community must continue to find mechanisms to maintain, and increase the levels of life-saving aid getting into Gaza.”

The National:

This appears to have been interpreted by the BBC journalist who wrote up the response as the Scottish Government announcing it would stop funding UNRWA in response to the allegations about some of its workers supporting Hamas.

What has the Scottish Government said since?

On Sunday morning, First Minister Humza Yousaf responded to the BBC story directly on Twitter/X, saying in effect the Scottish Government had reached the limit of what it could give to UNRWA on November 2.

He said: “To be clear, [the Scottish Government] has not paused or withdrawn aid to [UNRWA].

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

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

READ MORE: Head of UNRWA calls on countries to reconsider ‘shocking’ pause in funding

The night before, he had responded to UNRWA’s announcement it would investigate the allegations against staff, calling the statement “important”.

He added: “The people of Gaza are dying in the midst of a humanitarian catastrophe, they cannot be collectively punished. Aid must get to those who are already suffering so badly.”

Nonetheless, the BBC’s story sparked fury among the Scottish left, and there were plans – since scrapped – to protest at Holyrood over the matter.

Fact check verdict

A textbook case of a journalist adding two and two and getting five. The Scottish Government’s initial statement gave no background information or guidance on the subtleties of its position of sending aid to UNRWA, leaving it open to misinterpretation.

Based on the information in the public domain, it seems exceedingly unlikely the Scottish Government followed the UK’s lead in pausing payments over the Hamas allegations. Sloppy from the BBC.