UNRWA Urges Intl Community to Support People in Gaza

UNRWA Urges Intl Community to Support People in Gaza

Palestinian children carry pots as they queue to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen, amid shortages in food supplies, as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, in Rafah in the southern Gaza. (File photo: Reuters)

An official of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) has called for greater support of the international community, saying the January ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is clear that humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip “needs to be scaled up.”

“This is a collective responsibility. We must ensure that aid gets to people,” Marta Lorenzo, director of UNRWA Representative Office for Europe, told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of a panel discussion at the European Parliament. “We have a responsibility as international community not to fail the people in Gaza.”

The military campaign has pushed 85% of the territory’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the ICJ, which in an interim ruling ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Speaking of allegations that some of UNRWA’s staffers were involved in the October attacks, Lorenzo said they have not yet been given evidence to substantiate the claims. “But the allegations were so serious in nature that we decided to act firmly,” she said, referring to the dismissal of 12 employees of the UN agency.

According to Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, he immediately terminated the contracts of these staff members and launched an investigation to establish the truth.

“It is not about UNRWA. It is about the people in Gaza who are suffering, who do not know what future is going to look like. We know what needs to be done, and we need the support of the international community, much more now, than before,” Lorenzo said.

The UNRWA, considered a lifeline for over 2 million people in the besieged enclave, has suffered funding cuts from several countries after the Israeli accusations.

Financed by voluntary contributions from UN member states, the agency has been the main organisation providing humanitarian aid such as food, health, education, and shelter to Palestinian refugees in Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria since its establishment in 1950.

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