‘We Will Shut down by End of February’ – UNRWA Warns against Suspension of Funding

Israel bombed UNRWA schoold sheltering thousands of displaced Palestinians. (Photo: via a)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has warned that it would “most likely” be forced to shut down its operations in the besieged Gaza Strip as well as across the region by the end of February if funding remains suspended.  

Several Western countries, including the US, Canada, and France have suspended funding worth $440 million to the UN relief agency after Israel alleged some of its employees were involved in the October 7 operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance.  UNRWA terminated the contracts of the staff members concerned, asking for an independent investigation.

“It’s difficult to imagine that Gazans will survive this crisis without UNRWA,” Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza and UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a statement on Thursday. 

UNRWA is the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza. Of its 13,000 staff, more than 3,000 continue working, they are the backbone of the humanitarian aid operations, the statement said. 

“As the war in Gaza is being pursued unabated, and at the time the International Court of Justice calls for more humanitarian assistance, it is the time to reinforce and not to weaken UNRWA,” said UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. 

“The Agency remains the largest aid organization in one of the most severe and complex humanitarian crises in the world,” he stressed.

Lazzarini further said, “I echo the call of the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to resume funding to UNRWA. If the funding remains suspended, we will most likely be forced to shut down our operations by end of February not only in Gaza but also across the region.” 

The colossal humanitarian needs of over 2 million people in Gaza now face the risk of deepening following the decision of 16 donor countries to stop financial support to UNRWA, the statement said. 

‘Reckless’ Suspension of Aid

Last week, 21 global aid organizations slammed the decision as “reckless” by certain countries to suspend UNRWA funding.

In a joint statement, the agencies including Oxfam and Save the Children, said “we are deeply concerned and outraged that some of the largest donors have united to suspend” funding for UNRWA “amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

The organizations warned, “The population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease under Israel’s continued indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate deprivation of aid in Gaza.”

“We are shocked by the reckless decision to cut a lifeline for an entire population by some of the very countries that had called for aid in Gaza to be stepped up and for humanitarians to be protected while doing their job,” the organizations said.

Gaza Genocide – Destruction and Horrific Discoveries following Israeli Army’s Withdrawal

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 27,019 Palestinians have been killed, and 66,139 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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