UNRWA, The Forefront Of Aid Operations In Gaza, Faces Funding Cuts

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been playing a vital role in navigating aid challenges in the wake of the 7th October attack. It is continuously supplying all kinds of possible humanitarian aid in the besieged enclave. But there has been rising concern as Israel alleged several UNRWA staff members to be involved in the 7th October attack operated by Hamas. The agency is facing cuts in funds after the allegations. This can worsen the situation in Gaza that is already in a dire situation. 

UNRWA

UNRWA is a specialized UN agency that has been working at the forefront of relief operations for the Palestinian people. The UN agency is simply a lifeline for thousands of Palestinian people  across the Middle East, including those in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. UNRWA provides these people education, health care, social services, relief and aid.

The UN agency was established in 1949 to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to Palestinian refugees who lost their homes due to the creation of Israel. Nearly 6 million people in Gaza, the occupied West Bank , Jordan and Syria rely on the aid provided by the agency.

But the recent allegations against 12 employees of the agency have put its service at a stake. The unprecedented fund crisis led by its main international donors is likely to be a curse for the people in Gaza, as the agency concerns it might have to shut down its service if the donors keep suspending funds. 

The UN announced on Saturday that it had fired nine out of twelve employees due to the allegations . The authority promised to hold workers accountable. However, the organization also expressed shock at the quick funding cuts made by several Western nations in the midst of a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which has been severely damaged by Israel’s inhuman atrocities over the past four months. Leaders of UN agencies have appealed for the resumption of UNRWA funding.

Former Israeli foreign ministry official , Noga Arbell said in a press conference , “ Our main goal in the war is to eliminate the threat not just neutralize it , we know how to neutralize terrorist but it’s harder with an idea that UNRWA represents. Breeding more terrorists through various means. We can not win this war without dismantling UNRWA.”

Response From UNRWA

The UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini termed the action taken by the donors as a collective punishment for the people of Gaza as the US , Switzerland, Canada, Netherland, United Kingdom, Italy and Germany have suspended funding the agency.

“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,” Lazzarini said in a statement on Thursday. He also added ,“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.”

Israel has advocated the dismantling of UNRWA for a long time. It accuses that its principles are obsolete because the agency recognizes all the Palestinians displaced from 1947 & 1948 and their descendants as refugees .The recent allegation is just another way of politicizing humanitarian funding and putting the people in Gaza towards more suffering. 

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Author: Miftahul Zannat

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