Saturday, May 25, 2024

“Insidious campaign” underway to end UNRWA operations: UN agency chief

The head of the UN's main relief agency in Gaza (UNRWA) has warned that an “insidious campaign” is underway to end the operations of the UN body, warning of "serious implications for international peace and security".

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini told the UN Security Council that the agency was being “denied permission to deliver this aid and save lives”.

UNRWA has been under fire since Israel alleged that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. Israel has long campaigned for UNRWA, the main distributor of aid in Gaza, to be disbanded. Israel has also banned UNRWA from operating in Gaza’s north.

More than a dozen countries pulled funding for UNRWA after the allegations, some of which have resumed donations.

“Dismantling UNRWA will have lasting repercussions. In the short-term, it will deepen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and accelerate the onset of famine,” Lazzarini said.

“In the longer-term, it will jeopardize the transition from ceasefire to ‘day after’ by depriving a traumatized population of essential services.”

Lazzarini added children were “bearing the brunt of this war”, with more than 17,000 separated from their families and “left to face the horror of Gaza alone.”

He also warned that “a man-made famine is tightening its grip” across Gaza.

“Across the border, food and clean water wait. But UNRWA is denied permission to deliver this aid and save lives,” Lazzarini said.

“This outrage is occurring despite consecutive orders by the International Court of Justice to increase the flow of aid into Gaza – which can be done if there is sufficient political will,” he added, calling on the council to “make a difference”.

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