‘Outrageous’ – UNRWA Slams Israel’s Decision to Bar Aid Convoys to North Gaza 

Aid cannot reach northern Gaza. (Photo: via UNRWA)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Calling the move “outrageous,” the UNRWA chief said, “this cannot happen, it would only stain our collective humanity.”

Israel has informed the UN that it will no longer approve food convoys to the northern Gaza Strip, the head of the United Nations Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has said.

“Despite the tragedy unfolding under our watch, the Israeli Authorities informed the UN that they will no longer approve any UNRWA food convoys to the north,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on X on Sunday.

“This is outrageous & makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man made famine,” he stressed, adding that “These restrictions must be lifted.”

He said UNRWA “is the largest organization with the highest reach to displaced communities in Gaza.”

“By preventing UNRWA to fulfill its mandate in Gaza, the clock will tick faster towards famine & many more will die of hunger, dehydration + lack of shelter. This cannot happen, it would only stain our collective humanity.”

‘Famine is Imminent’

The latest move comes after Israel blocked all food convoys from entering north Gaza last week.

Lazzarini said the last time UNRWA was able to send food aid to the north “was nearly 2 months ago.”

‘All Food Convoys Denied Access to North Gaza This Week’ – UNRWA Chief

Last week a UN-backed food assessment report confirmed “famine is imminent” in the northern governorates of Gaza “anytime between now and May 2024.”

Israel’s decision has been condemned by the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, saying it is “very dangerous, as it will deepen the famine and murders through starvation and thirst,” according to a report by the Anadolu news agency.

The ministry also said it will lead to “eliminating the rights of refugees.”

‘Threatens Right of Return’

It saw the decision as “a direct threat to a prestigious and credible UN institution that serves the issues of Palestinian refugees and is concerned with their rights, not only in the occupied Palestinian territory, but also for Palestinian refugees in the region, especially their right to return.”

15 Children Killed by Starvation in Gaza as Israel Continues to Block Aid

The ministry added: “It is clear that the Israeli government is targeting UNRWA and working to destroy it, kill its staff, and render it ineffective in order to change the identity of the Strip so that it becomes without inhabitants…within the framework of the occupation’s war to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”

At least 15 children have died from malnutrition and dehydration at the Kamal Adwan Hospital, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza.

More Condemnation

Martin Griffiths, head of the UN humanitarian coordination office, said on X on Sunday that Israel’s decision “must be revoked,” as it “only pushes thousands closer to famine.”

“I have urged Israel to lift all impediments on aid to Gaza. Now this – MORE impediments,” he stated. “UNRWA is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza.”

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said that blocking UNRWA from delivering aid was “in fact, denying starving people the ability to survive”.

“This decision must be urgently reversed. The levels of hunger are acute. All efforts to deliver food should not only be permitted but there should be an immediate acceleration of food deliveries,” he said on X on Sunday.

During a visit to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on Saturday,  UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the long line of blocked trucks is “a moral outrage.”

“Here from this crossing, we see the heartbreak and heartlessness of it all. A long line of blocked relief trucks on one side of the gates, the long shadow of starvation on the other,” he stressed.

‘Stage of Horror’

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, said earlier this month “There is no doubt that this is genocide and that this is a campaign and intentional campaign of starvation by Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

“When the war broke out, we saw people go hungry in unprecedented ways. We have never seen any community made to go hungry so quickly. Now what we are seeing is famine. Children are dying from malnutrition, and dehydration,” Fakhri stated.

‘Moral Outrage’ – UN Chief Guterres Visits Rafah Border as Israel Vows to Attack

“We have never seen children pushed into malnutrition so quickly in any conflict in modern history,” he added. “We see children dying from malnutrition, and dehydration, this is a stage of horror.”

Aid Suspension

UNRWA lost millions in funding at the end of January, after dozens of countries, led by the US, suspended its financial support following allegations by Israel that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 resistance operation. Israel has yet to provide evidence for its claims.

The EU, Canada and Sweden, however, announced earlier this month that they will resume funding for UNRWA while investigations by an independent UN-appointed panel into the workings of the agency continue.

Following ICJ Ruling, Washington Suspends UNRWA Funding

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden signed into law a $1.2 trillion budget bill, which halts funding to UNRWA until March 2025.

UNRWA was created by the UN General Assembly more than 70 years ago to carry out direct relief and works programmes for Palestine refugees.

When the agency began operations in 1950, it was responding to the needs of about 750,000 Palestine refugees. Today, some 5.9 million Palestine refugees are eligible for UNRWA services, according to its website. It mainly works in the Gaza Strip, West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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