File photo: AFP
A consortium of 21 international aid agencies have expressed deep concern and outrage at a decision by major donors to suspend funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Save the Children, ActionAid, Oxfam, the Danish Refugee Council were among those who warned that the decision to cease funding of the UN aid agency “comes amid a rapidly worsening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”
“The suspension of funding by donor states will impact life-saving assistance for over two million civilians, over half of whom are children, who rely on UNRWA aid in Gaza. The population faces starvation, looming famine and an outbreak of disease under Israel’s continued indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate deprivation of aid in Gaza,” they said in a joint letter.
“We welcome UNRWA’s swift investigation into the alleged involvement of a small number of UN staff members in the October 7th attacks,” they continued, adding: “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.”
More than 10 western countries including the US, UK, Canada and Germany said they would suspend funding to UNRWA, which provides aid to more than six million Palestinian refugees across the Middle East.
152 UNRWA staff have already been killed and 145 UNRWA facilities damaged by Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign in Gaza. UNRWA is the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza and their delivery of humanitarian assistance cannot be replaced by other agencies working in Gaza.
“If the funding suspensions are not reversed we may see a complete collapse of the already restricted humanitarian response in Gaza,” the 21 rights groups warned. “The countries suspending funds risk further depriving Palestinians in the region of essential food, water, medical assistance and supplies, education and protection.”