Humanitarian relief in Gaza: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

  • What ministerial or other discussions were held prior to this donation being made
  • Who made the decision to make the donation
  • Which government budget provided the funds
  • To which organisation was the donation made
  • What assurances were given that the funds would be used for humanitarian purposes, has there been any follow up to verify this
  • Was consideration given to making a similar donation to Israel


In recognition of Scotland's role as a good global citizen, the Scottish Government has traditionally responded to some international humanitarian crises in addition to our ongoing International Development Programme. Previously, the Scottish Government provided funding directly to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for Gaza in 2014. UNRWA provides Palestinians in Gaza with shelter, emergency health care, education, remote psychosocial support and psychological first aid.

On 13 October 2023, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) gave notice of its intention to mount a ground offensive in Gaza and that the population of northern Gaza (approx. 1.2 million), including Gaza City should evacuate within 24 hours. That same day, advice was provided by officials to the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, seeking approval for £500,000 humanitarian funding to form a Scottish Government response to the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In terms of the organisation selected, the main challenge at that time was access for humanitarian aid, and this was a key consideration in terms of how to best deploy a humanitarian contribution from Scotland for Gaza. UNRWA was continuing its humanitarian operations in Gaza, and had a stronger presence on the ground than many INGOs. The funding would be targeted for UNRWA’s Flash Appeal for Gaza (“90 Day Initial Emergency Response to the Escalation in the Gaza Strip”).

These funds were approved by the Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development and will come from the Directorate for External Affairs (DEXA) budget. The funds will be donated to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

The funding will be used to support displaced people in Gaza access food, water, shelter and medical supplies. Further details on the UNRWA appeal can be found here: UNRWA Flash Appeal: 90 day initial emergency response to the escalation in the Gaza Strip | UNRWA. We are satisfied that UNRWA, with the institutional substance of a UN agency, its established operations and long experience of working on the ground in Gaza, is best placed to ensure that the funds are used to provide humanitarian aid to those in desperate need.

As per the terms of the agreement with UNRWA the contributions shall be administered in accordance with UNRWA’s Regulations, Rules, Organisation Directives, Instructions and any other parts of its regulatory framework, as well as its policies, and procedures (collectively, the UNRWA Regulatory Framework). The UNRWA shall provide the Scottish Government with the UNRWA Annual Operational Report (AOR) for the period 1 January 2023 until 31 December 2023. In addition, the UNRWA shall provide the UNRWA financial report and audited financial statements for the period 1 January 2023 until 31 December 2023, submitted by the UN Board of Auditors to the UN General Assembly, that will be available on

The UN ‘Flash’ appeal is specifically for Gaza. That is where the unfolding humanitarian disaster is, with an estimated 1.9 million people displaced by the bombing. The Israeli Government has not requested humanitarian assistance from the international community.

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Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
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