4 Feb, 2024


Controversy over United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) diverts attention from humanitarian crisis in Gaza


Translated from French by PAJU

Around twenty Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), including Oxfam and Médecins Du Monde (MDM), wrote that they were shocked and revolted by the irresponsible decision of a dozen countries to cut off food supplies to an entire population.

“Criminal activities must never go unpunished, but the current discussion only distracts from what is really happening every day, every hour and every minute in Gaza. Let’s not forget what the real problems are on the ground,” said a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO), Christian Lindmeier, during a regular press briefing in Geneva.

At the same time, the Gaza Ministry of Health announced that the toll of Palestinian victims of the deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza since Saturday October 7, 2023 is more than twenty-six thousand seven hundred and fifty dead.

A dozen countries announced that they were suspending their funding to UNRWA after Israeli accusations that certain employees were involved in the attacks on Saturday October 7, 2023.

Christian Lindmeier recalled that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had called on donors not to suspend their funding to UNWRA at this very critical time, as this will only harm the people of Gaza who desperately need help.

“This distracts from the fact that an entire population is being prevented from accessing clean water, food and shelter. This distracts from the fact that electricity has been blocked from reaching Gaza for over a hundred days,” said Christian Lindmeier.

Around twenty international NGOs wrote that they were outraged by the suspension of funding while Gaza is experiencing a humanitarian disaster.

“UNWRA is the main provider of aid to Gaza and the region and ceasing funding will impact the lifesaving assistance provided to more than two million civilians, more than half of whom are children, who all depend on its help,” write twenty-one NGOs, including Oxfam, MDM, Save the Children and the Danish Refugee Council, in a joint press release.

They say they are shocked by the irresponsible decision of donors to cut off supplies to an entire population, while these countries themselves called for increased aid to Gaza, “we are deeply concerned and revolted by the fact that some of the major donors have agreed to suspend their funding to UNRWA, while the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza worsens day by day. As other agencies in Gaza cannot replace UNRWA’s humanitarian assistance, if funding suspensions are maintained, we risk seeing the total collapse of the already very limited humanitarian response in Gaza. We call on affected countries to reverse the suspension of their funding to UNWRA.”

Rami Abdo, head of the European Observatory for Human Rights (OEDH), said Israel is using hunger as a weapon to displace Gaza residents and even kill them, explaining that Gaza suffers from a severe food shortage and the flow of aid arriving daily has decreased from five hundred trucks before the war to less than a hundred trucks currently, “more than half of the Palestinians in Gaza suffer from extreme hunger.” All residents of northern Gaza face severe famine conditions.”

He said that occupation soldiers had opened fire on Palestinians who were trying to reach food trucks entering Gaza from the south to the north in small numbers and that the OEDH had documented the deaths of dozens of Palestinians and because of this, “we are talking about a deliberate famine, especially in northern Gaza, and children are the most affected by this situation.”


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