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Two horses on the loose bolt through the streets of London near Aldwych on Wednesday, April 24, 2024.

PA Images via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Horses stirrup trouble in London, Germany to resume UNRWA funding, Argentine students take to the streets, Suspected extremists arrested in Australia, Commodity prices direct inflation

5: Talk about a rough commute … Five military horsesescaped their handlers and galloped through London in a slightly terrifying rush hour spectacle, injuring several people and narrowly dodging crowds of innocent bystanders. Before being recaptured by handlers, the horses gallivanted through the center of town for two hours, traversing roughly six miles. Theimpact of Beyonce’s “Cowboy Carter” era should never be underestimated.

200 million: Germany plans to resume funding UNRWA – the UN’s main aid organization for Palestine — which it funded with over $200 million in 2023. The move follows the conclusion of an independent review stating Israel did not provide enough evidence of allegations of widespread UNRWA infiltration by terrorist militants that initially caused the suspension. More than a dozen countries paused funding as a result of Israel’s accusations. Germany will be joining Canada, Australia, and Sweden in resuming funding. Other major donors like the US and UK remain on pause.

100,000: Students are protesting nationwide in Argentina, and in a much bigger way than antiwarprotesters on US campuses. Police say 100,000 students and supporters (organizers say closer to half a million) took to the streets of Buenos Aires aloneon Tuesday in defense of free public universities. Annual inflation in Argentina is approaching 290%, and budget cuts are putting public universities in jeopardy.

7: Seven Australian teenagers werearrested Wednesday following a knife attack earlier this month that injured an Assyrian Orthodox bishop and priest at a Sydney church. Police said the suspects were motivated by religious and “violent extremist ideology.” Video of the attack was shared widely before Australian courts banned it from major social media platforms. Unsurprisingly, Twitter/X owner (and self-appointed free speech czar) Elon Musk wasnot too pleased about the order.

38: Geopolitical tensions — including the wars in Ukraine and Gaza — are puffing up commodity prices, which are currently still 38% higher than pre-COVID averages, according to a new report by the World Bank. That’s keeping inflation from falling — and that’s the benign scenario, where global crises don’t get any worse. If they do, the Bank warns, oil prices could surge above $100 per barrel, driving up global inflation by another full percentage point.

Displaced Palestinians wait to receive UNRWA aid amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024.

REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Did the US tell Canada to resume aid to UNRWA?

The US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield asked Canadian International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen to keep funding the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA), Hussen told the Canadian Press.

Canada and the US joined 15 other countries in freezing funding for the humanitarian organization in January after Israel alleged that more than a dozen of the agency’s employees were involved in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack But Hussen in early March announced that Canada would resume payments.

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FILE PHOTO: Palestinian employees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) prepare food aid rations for refugees, in Gaza city on January 19, 2022

Majdi Fathi via Reuters Connect

Hard Numbers: Alt-aid for Gaza, 2024 economic outlook, Continent-sized drug racket busted, Stolen bear on the loose

30 million: Canada has made a new pledge to send nearly $30 million in aid to Gaza. The move comes after Canada followed the US lead in cutting funding to UNRWA, the UN relief agency, in light of Israeli accusations that members of the organization had participated in the Oct. 7 attacks. According to the last full year of data, in 2022 Canada gave about $24 million to UNRWA. The new batch of Canadian aid will be delivered by other UN agencies such as UNICEF, the UN Population Fund, and the World Health Organization. (What’s UNRWA and why is it controversial? Read our explainer here.)

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Palestinian people holding empty bowls try to reach out for food distributed by UNRWA workers at donation point.

UNRWA, explained

UNRWA: What is it?

In the days since Israel accused employees of UNRWA of participating in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks, the US and at least nine other countries have temporarily suspended funding for the UN agency, which provides humanitarian aid and social services to the roughly 6 million Palestinians classified as refugees in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon.

What is the origin of UNRWA?

The United Nations Relief Works Agency was created in 1949 by the recently founded United Nations to provide humanitarian aid and economic support to the roughly 700,000 Arabs of Palestine who fled or were driven from their homes during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948.

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FILE PHOTO: A truck, marked with United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) logo, crosses into Egypt from Gaza, at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, during a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Rafah, Egypt, November 27, 2023.

REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

A dozen countries suspend UNRWA funding over Oct.7 allegations

On Sunday, France, Austria and Japan announced they were joining the US, Germany, Canada, Italy, the UK, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia and Finland in pausing their funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. At least a dozen employees of UNRWA allegedly cooperated with Hamas in planning the Oct. 7 attacks.

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The office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza City back in 2018.

REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

US cuts aid as UNRWA staff accused of Oct. 7 involvement

The International Court of Justice isn’t the only UN body in the news regarding Gaza today.

The White House on Friday suspended funding for the UN Refugee Works Administration, aka UNRWA, due to allegations that an unspecified number of the agency’s employees had participated in the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel.

UNRWA is the main UN agency supporting the roughly 6 million Palestinian refugees who live in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Here’s a map of where they live.) It provides humanitarian aid and runs schools, medical facilities, and other social services.

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