Aid organizations condemn cut in funding to UN agency for Palestinian refugees
In a collective outcry against the suspension of funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), several aid organizations have voiced their deep concern over the perilous situation unfolding in Gaza and the wider region.
In a statement, the organizations warned of starvation, the looming specter of famine, and the outbreak of diseases exacerbated by Israel's continued bombardment and deliberate obstruction of aid access 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,” it said.
“This decision comes as the International Court of Justice ordered immediate and effective action to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza,” it added.
The NGOs urged donor states to reaffirm their support for UNRWA and its partners in their critical mission to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians enduring one of the gravest humanitarian crises in recent memory.
They implored nations to reverse the funding suspensions, fulfill their obligations to the Palestinian people, and escalate humanitarian assistance to address the urgent needs in Gaza and the wider region.
At least 12 countries – Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada, Finland, Australia, the UK, Netherlands, the US, France, Austria and Japan – have suspended funds for UNRWA, which was established in 1949 to cater to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.
UNRWA said it terminated contracts with several employees following the Israeli allegations.
Tel Aviv has alleged that some of the agency's employees were involved in the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.
The Israeli accusations came as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday found South Africa's claim that Israel is committing genocide plausible. The court issued an interim order urging Israel to stop obstructing aid deliveries into Gaza and to improve the humanitarian situation.
Flouting the ICJ's provisional ruling, Israel continues its onslaught on the Gaza Strip where at least 26,637 Palestinians have been killed, mostly women and children, and 65,387 others injured since Oct. 7, according to Palestinian health authorities. Israel says nearly 1,200 people have been killed in the Hamas attack.
The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.
Read the full statement: UNRWA funding cuts threaten Palestinian lives in Gaza and region, say NGOs