THE investigation into allegations that some UNRWA staff were complicit in Hamas's October 7 attack in Israel is still ongoing.

It is, however, imperative that the innocent Gazans who have been displaced do not bear alone the enormous burden of accessing food, water and life-saving assistance.

Gaza relies massively on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the largest UN agency operating in Gaza to provide humanitarian needs while conflict and displacement continue. Eight of the world's most powerful governments – the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands) have decided to halt humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza pending the UNRWA staff investigations.

This, however, has left two million displaced people, half of whom are children, at risk of starvation – a devastating humanitarian catastrophe. Children have no role in starting wars, yet they have unfortunately become victims of them.

The National: The United Nations is poised to end aid efforts in Afghanistan (John Minchillo/AP)

The UNRWA’s ability to deliver humanitarian aid was already struggling for funding amid the UK Government’s drastic cut in its annual contributions. This current halt has put further strain on the agency’s ability to deliver effectively.

READ MORE: David Pratt: Israel might loathe UNWRA but they need it for now

During his visit to Scotland in 2022, Marc Lassouaoui, then Outreach Europe manager of UNRWA, shared his concerns with the Scottish Government over the UK Government's reduction in humanitarian aid to Gaza. As a result, the Scottish Government expressed its discontent by writing to then foreign secretary Liz Truss and urged UK ministers to restore this vital funding.

To date, the Scottish Government has committed £750,000 to assist with the crisis. Although other nations have opted to suspend much-needed support, Scotland has not withdrawn aid to UNRWA – a clear difference between the Scottish Government and that of the United Kingdom.

The National: The First Minister gave evidence at the UK Covid Inquiry on Thursday

First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to continue financing essential amenities in Gaza, as funds permit, highlighting the necessity of humanitarian aid that is required to fulfil the crisis demands. The Commissioner General of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, has expressed similar feelings, noting actions to punish innocent people collectively – through powerful nations halting aid and resources in an already cruel situation – are destructive.

The work of the UNRWA is the lifeline of the Gazans. It is therefore of paramount importance that humanitarian assistance should be scaled up to meet the demands of the crisis – not scaled back. We do not demand a pause to aid the defenceless women and children of Gaza; rather, we demand a ceasefire and an end to the bloodshed and conflict.

Dr Shelly-Ann Brown has more than ten years of professional experience in academia, the public, private and third sectors. She has a PhD in Economics from Edinburgh Napier University and two Masters degrees in Economics, from Erasmus University in the Netherlands, and the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. She is the National BAME Convener for the SNP.